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Traffic issue dominated by shades of green

Wonder why it seems there is at least one traffic signal with the apparent sole purpose of making life difficult? The one that seems always to turn red at the last moment.

Reggie Chandra of Rhythm Engineering said most traffic issues are based on traffic signal synchronization, or lack of it, meaning resolution is also in timing. Traffic management is his calling, he said.

Chandra presented the concept of interactive traffic signals at the May 29 meeting of the Metroplan Board of Directors. Well-maintained, well-synchronized traffic signals are the answer, he said.

Executive director Jim McKenzie invited Chandra to explain the InSync system to the board.

Rhythm Engineering offers a real-time, adaptive traffic signal system that improves efficiency and, with efficiency, comes safety, Chandra said. The company’s first installation was on Shackleford Road in Little Rock, in 2008, he said.

The system is compatible with existing controllers with no additional detection required, Chandra said.

The United States is oriented toward building, not sustainability, Chandra said. Once roadways are built there remains finding the most efficient means of traffic flow on new roads as well those already in place, he said.

The system has three components that collect individual signal information, which is applied to an algorithm to minimize delays at individual intersections, and globally to control a series of intersections.

The system collects the information continually and actually improves with time after detecting cycles, Chandra said. The system learns, and the longer it operates, the more it knows the cycles of an area, he said.

“I get phone calls all the time. ‘Why am I sitting on the side street when there is no one on the main street?’” Certainly, public officials get the same calls, he said.

Forty percent of the traffic deaths in the U.S. happen at intersections; imagine the impact of significantly reducing that figure, Chandra said. Statistics show that the system can reduce crashes by 30 percent he said.

Speaking in terms of costs to the community, fatal crashes are estimated at $500,000 to $1 million, injuries average $100,000, Chandra said. Setting aside the monetary costs, “It could be my daughter driving … it could be yours,” Chandra said.

In congested area, travel times can be reduced by 50 percent, eliminating up about 90 percent of the stops for signals, Chandra said. With the reduced travel and standing times comes reduction in fuel use and emissions, he said.

People complain, ‘I hate this particular traffic light, it is almost like it is programmed to turn red for me,’”

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