Monday, April 15, 2013

Los Angeles Traffic Synchronization

The Downs chapter on congestion brought to mind something I had just read about the synchronization of traffic lights in Los Angeles. As congestion is a difficult problem to measure, it is a difficult to provide a solution for. At the beginning of this month LA implemented a project synchronizing all of its 4,500 traffic lights. The lights are synchronized by a centralized computer system which picks up information from magnetic sensors and cameras planted above ground,
monitoring traffic flow. The project began 30 years ago, in preparation for the Olympics. The city has spent over $400 million on the projects development since. According to the city, the system improves traffic speed by 16 percent. Without the system the it takes drivers 20 minutes to drive 5 miles, the system cuts that down to 17.2 minutes. Although the extra 2.8 minutes doesn’t do much to excite stranded drivers, the city is hoping to improve the system with time. In addition to providing congestion relief, the system is designed to reduce pollution by eliminating the number of times a car starts and stops during a trip. Although the system has made slight improvements for congestion in LA, one questions the long term benefits of such a system. What is the future of traffic monitoring technology? How is the system supported in the instance of system failures? Additionally, one wonders how such a system would work in a smaller city. Would the impacts be greater? Although many questions remain, the project seems to be off to a good start.

For more check out this article

Thanks to Luanda Fiscella for editing!

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