County To Eye Computer System To Coordinate Traffic Lights
By Suzanne Schmidt
The county commission is to vote today (7/7) on a contract to help smooth traffic flow in increasingly congested Miami-Dade.
The system aims to improve congestion during peak periods and decrease stops at traffic signals, coordinating all signals via computer. Today, some signals aren’t linked to others in the county’s 30-year-old system.
The system, if instituted, won’t help immediately, but drivers should notice impact within a year, said Pete Hernandez, deputy county manager.
The system incorporates the county’s existing 2,650 traffic signals with a future proposed capacity of 4,000. The current system handles a maximum of 2,024 signals, leaving 626 as stand-alone units not coordinated with the others.
The county commission voted in February to grant the systems contract to Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a North Carolina-based corporation. The initial study began in mid-2004 with an off-the-shelf system, including field-visits to cities with similar systems.
"We went out to visit locations where systems are in place. Then we ranked the systems and requested a negotiation," said Mr. Hernandez. "We chose Kimley-Horn because their system fits our needs."
Phase I of the study proposes a 16-intersection test near the Public Works Department Traffic Control Center at a fixed fee of $325,000. Phase II will deploy the system countywide starting in January 2006, with completion due in 2009, said Public Works Department traffic control center engineer Robert Williams. The contract specifies no more than $2.5 million in the first 12 contracted months of the updating process.
"The traffic system replaces the traffic control system installed in 1975 with new technology implemented in various sections of the country," Mr. Williams said. "The system had a maximum capacity at the time that seemed plentiful, but sometime in the 1980s we had too many signals."
Mr. Williams estimates complete installation of the system will take six months with the 16-intersection test.
"The test serves as a demonstration to make sure it operates properly," he said. "After that, I predict the county will approve the process right away.
"I expect to have it on its way by October or November," Mr. Williams said. "The only problem is that it’s not going to immediately improve traffic because the roads are over-saturated."