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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Council Roundup: 'Smart' traffic signals discussed

traffic lights downtown. By David Johanson Vasquez/Big PictureAt its Monday study session, the City Council considered the next step in a plan to make the city's traffic signal system smarter, more reliable and more efficient.

The proposed improvement, part of a broader effort to create an "intelligent transportation system," involves upgrading the computer system that controls the city's 182 traffic signals. The current technology, some of it more than 30 years old and considered outdated, is located in the traffic management center at City Hall.

Upgrades to the computer system are desirable so the city's existing roadways can be utilized in the most efficient way possible. With fewer projects on the horizon to create new roads or expand existing ones, there's a need to get the most out of the Bellevue's current street system.

The proposed state-of-the-art, "traffic adaptive" system would collect road data continuously and constantly adjust signal timing to provide the most efficient traffic flow. Results from other cities that have installed similar systems indicate travel times could improve by 5 percent or more.

Such a system could also mean reduced wait times for pedestrians, as well as the capability of a "transit signal priority" function so buses can zip more quickly through intersections.

Progress made so far includes replacing 80 percent of the old communications system, which connects the traffic management center to traffic signals throughout the city, with high-speed broadband connections.
Initially, the new system would be deployed downtown at 22 intersections on Northeast Eighth Street, Bellevue Way and Northeast Fourth Street, and at nine intersections on Factoria Boulevard. Calculations indicate installing the traffic adaptive signal system at these intersections will save the public an estimated $1.5 million annually in reduced travel delay costs.

At an upcoming meeting, the council will consider an $830,000 contract to install the traffic adaptive system at the 31 intersections. If approved, it's anticipated the work would be completed by the end of the year.

The total cost estimate for the first phase of the project, including installation at the 31 intersections, consultant work, broadband communications, labor and a performance evaluation study, is $3 million.

Council agenda item 

Feedback: Mark Poch, Traffic Engineering Manager, Signals, at 425-452-6137 or mpoch@bellevuewa.gov

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