Round Rock synchronizing traffic signals to improve traffic flow

City crews can monitor intersections and manage timing adjustments remotely from the Round Rock Traffic Management Center. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Round Rock city crews can monitor intersections and manage timing adjustments remotely from the Round Rock Traffic Management Center. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Sharon Bailey knows when to skip the main lanes of Round Rock.

“If I have to go at rush hour I’ll go the back roads, I know the area around here well,” explains Bailey, who lives in between Round Rock and Georgetown.

Bailey says at times, the wait for a traffic light to change from red to green can feel like five minutes. In reality, the traffic signal cycle is about two minutes, but you may wait longer if there is more traffic.

The city of Round Rock is working to synchronize traffic lights, and then analyze that data to try to reduce wait times at red lights. Crews are replacing controllers at 89 intersections throughout the city as part of a program upgrade. The new system allows the city to do most of the work remotely from the control center, saving crews and drivers time.

“It gives us the ability to adjust timing patterns much tighter than we could in the old technology,” explains Round Rock transportation director Gary Hudder. “If you’re traveling at the speed limit, you’ll pick up green signals as you go through the corridor which will get you through the corridor faster.”

The city should be done with the signal synchronization by the end of the week. Drivers may see brief red flashing lights as crews are out installing the new controllers. The city is focusing on major corridors including U.S.79/Palm Valley Boulevard, North Mays Street, Old Settlers Boulevard, A.W. Grimes Boulevard, Louis Henna Boulevard, Gattis School Road, McNeil Drive, Round Rock Avenue, Hesters Crossing, and University Boulevard.

The city says the upgrade is included in its current contract with the service provider for the controllers, so it did not cost the city extra.

Austin’s Transportation Department says it hired 13 new people last year to help improve traffic flow through better signal timing. Austin has more than 1,000 signals. Engineers are able to test and re-time about a third of traffic lights a year to reduce travel times.

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