Traffic Signal Corridor Retiming

About the Project

A typical traffic signal in the City of Omaha operates using one of three timing plans based on the time of day (AM peak period, PM peak period and off-peak periods). The timing plans are developed by traffic volume and direction of traffic on a given street and corridor during a given time of the day. The timing plans become out of date and lose effectiveness as traffic patterns change.
With many of the corridor timing plans in the City being out-of-date, the City of Omaha Public Works Department has started a program to update timing plans to accommodate current traffic patterns. The primary strategy for the corridor signal timings is to prioritize travel along the mainline corridor during peak periods and reduce average intersection delay during off peak periods.
Traffic signal timing efforts will take place concurrently with the Traffic Signal Infrastructure Upgrade projects to also take advantage of the enhanced capabilities from upgraded technology of the signal system such as operational benefits of flashing yellow arrows and improved traffic sensors.
Due to the number of corridors in the City, the effort to complete the re-timing efforts, and availability of funding, the retiming program will group various corridors together for a project to re-time the traffic signals. Each corridor re-timing project will take place in several phases as described below.

Project Phases:

  • Data Collection – Updated traffic counts will be obtained at each intersection in the corridor; existing signal timings/operations will be obtained and reviewed as well as the characteristics of each intersection in the corridor.
  • Optimization –Software will be utilized to model the roadway network and traffic volumes, and optimized to develop a signal timing plan that minimizes overall delay and number of stops. In addition, vehicle and pedestrian yellow and red times will be updated to current standards, and additional analysis will be conducted for bicycle facilities, left turn operations, and order of phases.
  • Implementation – Once new signal timings for a corridor are developed, the timing plans will be updated for the intersections in the corridor.
  • Evaluation – Several measures to determine the effectiveness the timing plans will be recorded by driving the corridor, obtaining data from sensors, utilizing travel analytics software, and observing traffic with the timing plans in place. Recorded traffic signal timing data from the signal system central management software during the evaluation period will also be used to evaluate the operation of the timing plans.
  • Refinement – Adjustments to the timing plans will be made based on the corridor travel results and traffic observations.

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Benefits of the Project:

  • Shortened Travel Time – Retiming signals can reduce the amount of time and number of times drivers are stopped at a red light through a corridor. The reduction in stops allows drivers to travel through the corridor in less time.
  • Reduced Fuel Consumption - A reduction in fuel consumption is realized as the amount of time vehicles spend idling is reduced. The reduction in fuel consumption saves drivers money by decreasing fuel usage.
  • Decreased Vehicle Emissions - The reduction in idling time for vehicles reduces the amount of emissions that enter the atmosphere. Vehicles emissions include the following products: nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. Reduction of these emissions improves the environment and air quality for all citizens.
  • Increased Safety - Improved signal operations not only leads to benefits in congestion, fuel economy, and air quality as described above, but it can also reduce crashes. According to the Federal Highway Administration, providing improved signal coordination on a corridor can reduce crashes by 15%.
  • Increased Travel Time Reliability – The reduction in congestion and decrease in crashes will contribute to a more reliable driving experience meaning driving along the corridor will, in general, be more similar from day-to-day. Travel time reliability is not only important to commuters but commercial/ freight traffic as well.

Project Schedule

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Bryan Guy, PE, PTOE
Assistant City Traffic Engineer,  Public Works Division
City of Omaha