Columbus getting new $38.1M traffic system

Associated Press


Ohio’s capital is getting a $38.1 million overhaul of its traffic system, which should mean some travel time benefits for Columbus commuters and visitors.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that work to replace a 1970s era system will by 2018 give city traffic managers control over every traffic signal to help them keep motorists moving.

Monitors can adjust stoplight signal timing in response to backups and new links will provide more ability to work with systems in the city’s suburbs and Franklin County.

Traffic cameras will triple to 150, and fiber-optic cable and wireless connections will ease fragmentation of traffic control efforts. Coaxial cable currently connects 625 traffic signals to the downtown command center, but some 400 other signals are on their own systems or can’t be controlled remotely.

“Traffic is kind of like water,” said Patti Austin, a city planning and operations administrator. “If you clog up one drain, it’s going to overflow into other places.”

It should be good news for the city’s commuters, who can expect quicker travel times to work and home.

“It definitely will make the commute smoother,” Austin said.

“What you find in most cities today is that you have fragmented systems,” said Hani Mahmassani, an engineering professor at Northwestern University. “Signal control has a 5 to 10 percent potential improvement that is just not being tapped.”

Upgraded software will also provide ability to adjust quickly to major events such as Ohio State University football games and the Red, White & Boom summer celebration.

“We’re pretty limited in what we can do certain times of day,” said project manager Ryan Bollo. “This new software will be able to do whole corridors and have pre-timed systems we can do any time of day.”

Columbus is paying $12.8 million to design the system, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission will use more than $25 million in federal funding for construction.

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