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Feb 22, 2013 12:59 PM by Zach Thaxton

Fed up with the timing of traffic signals? Relief is on the way...

The long weekend traffic backups along U.S. 24 from I-25 through Old Colorado City may be a thing of the past -- or at least significantly reduced -- by Memorial Day.  Traffic engineers for the City of Colorado Springs say a $7 million project will begin this spring to install so-called adaptive traffic signals along seven major traffic corridors in Colorado Springs, starting with six intersections along Cimarron Street from I-25 to 31st Street.

Currently, signals across the city are on fixed timing patterns.  When traffic anomalies such as accidents or major events happen, backups can result from the fixed timing pattern of the signals.  The new adaptive signals will be able to instantly detect changes in traffic patterns and adjust signal timing immediately to reduce congestion.  Traffic managers say the signals also will store traffic data and use it for predictive timing in the future.  For example, signals along Cimarron Street can store traffic data from the final weekend of May this year during Territory Days in Old Colorado City and predict patterns for the same weekend next year.  "The signals basically self-adjust to the changing on the weekends," said Robert Helt, Principal Traffic Engineer.  "That's going to be the biggest change that people see."

Additionally, traffic managers are able to manually manipulate traffic signals from the Traffic Management Center downtown by observing traffic patterns or tie-ups from cameras mounted at intersections across the entire city.  But don't think that you can affect the timing of signals by flashing your headlights as you approach an intersection.  Traffic bosses say the technology that once allowed emergency vehicles to affect signal timing based on the strobe pattern of their flashing emergency lights is now outdated and no longer in use.  Instead, emergency vehicles now utilize GPS-based manipulation.

The $7 million adaptive traffic signals project is funded by a Federal grant with a 17 percent local match.  Adaptive signals will be installed at 220 intersections along seven of the city's busiest corridors over the next three years, including East Platte Avenue, Union Boulevard, Academy Boulevard, and Powers Boulevard.

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