City explains efforts to synchronize lights
Baltimore resident Benjamin I. Feldman wrote a letter last week to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, which we posted on this blog, outlining his concerns about the synchronization of the city's traffic signals.
This week, the city Department of Transportation replied on the mayor's behalf. Have a read and see what you think:
Dear Mr. Feldman:
Thank you for your observations and your concerns about the timing of the traffic signals in the City of Baltimore. The Department of Transportation through its Traffic Division has conducted an investigation into your concerns and offers the following comments.
One of the functions of the Traffic Division’s Traffic Management Center is to monitor and make adjustments to the traffic signal system to provide a balanced system that serves the needs of motorists, mass transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists. This mission is achieved in part by the synchronization of the traffic signals along various corridors. This effort has, in recent years, resulted in improving the efficient movement of traffic based on the time of day and roadway capacity. For example, along those gateway corridors that were optimized there has been a reduction in travel time of 12 % and reduction in the number of stops by 11 %. Similarly, for the downtown corridors there has been a reduction in travel times by 20 % and a reduction in the number of stops by 20 %.
Nonetheless, the timing adjustments are still required every few years or even sooner depending on changing traffic demand and patterns. In some instances we prefer slightly longer travel times to promote safety and encourage greater use of mass transit and bicycles such as along Pratt Street in the downtown area. In other locations the need to provide more time to pedestrians is essential, so major roadways crossing MLK, Jr. Blvd. may experience slightly longer travel times.
To monitor how well our traffic signal system are performing, travel timing runs are performed along various corridors to measure the time it takes to move from one point to another. The data collected is used to measure the effectiveness of the signal timing along those routes and will assist us in making adjustments and repairs to improve the traffic flow and minimize delays. Signal optimization is sometimes adversely affected by equipment breakdowns, so the need to make repairs and improvements are an ongoing process. The Department of Transportation has recently awarded a contract to replace faulty detectors at the intersections along some the major corridors throughout of the City. As such repairs are made, delays along the corridors will be reduced since fewer side streets will get green time when no vehicles and/or pedestrians are detected.
In your letter you mentioned two problematic areas. The first area was the Charles Street corridor. The signals at Charles Street and St. Albans, the exit from the Cathedral of Mary our Queen, and the entrance to Friends School are vehicular and pedestrian demand intersections. These signals should not change until the vehicular detectors or pedestrian pushbuttons are activated.
The second area was Northern Parkway. There has been extensive roadwork in this area, including rebuilding and installing new traffic signals on Northern Parkway between Park Heights and Falls Road. During the construction the vehicular detection system was impacted, which along with the reduced capacity associated with lane closures, negatively affected traffic flow. Upon completion of this project, the traffic signals will be equipped with the state-of-the-art detection system and motorists should notice significant improvements.
Again we appreciate your sharing your oberservations with us and by all means, please continue to do so. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Mr. T.J. Bathras, TMC Manager, Traffic Division, at (443) 984-2199
Department of Transportation
So what do readers think?