Iowa's The Gazette reported recently on the City of Cedar Rapids' innovative use of advanced detection sensor systems and traffic management software to "keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely through the city" after bad weather and the early impacts of the pandemic on traffic.
The Cedar Rapids Traffic Engineering Division manages and operates more than 187 traffic signals, about 1,200 streetlights and over 1.5 million feet of pavement markings and signage designed to organize the movement of freight, transit, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. In managing the traffic signals, the division uses a combination of observation cameras and computer software to monitor traffic volume and adjust traffic flow to minimize congestion and delays, according to Cedar Rapids traffic engineering program manager John Witt.
With Iteris' Vantage Vector hybrid detection system – an all-in-one detection sensor that combines video and radar for stop bar and advance zone detection – Mr Witt's team are able to differentiate between vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians, helping traffic to flow more efficiently and improving safety for all road users, while helping the city to optimize traffic signal timing to account for changes in traffic volumes due to the pandemic or bad weather.
Determining timing schedules for the city’s signals is based on a combination of traffic volume, busiest times of day, safety and the time of year.
“In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw a dramatic decrease in traffic volume, so we made a lot of adjustments to signal timing all over town, especially in areas where, and during times of day, when a lot of the traffic was generated by people going to work or school,” Mr Witt said.
“With this system we are able to monitor traffic — especially on our major corridors — and make sure things are operating as they should,” he said. And if there’s an incident like a wreck, they can adjust traffic signal timing. The system can prove especially useful in bad weather, Mr Witt said, “because we are able to monitor road conditions and make the decision as to when to deploy plows or other resources.”
About the Author:
David Sadeghi is senior manager, digital marketing at Iteris.