Changes to the way traffic signals are timed along Bell Road in the Phoenix metropolitan area could help drivers cut down on their commute times. MCDOT is installing new adaptive signal technology along the corridor this summer.
“Adaptive signal control technology gives signal timing a new face,” said MCDOT Traffic Engineer April Wire. “It adjusts the signal timing automatically so it adapts with the changing conditions that are on the roadway. If there is an incident on the roadway, the adaptive signal would pick that up and adjusts the signal timing sometimes quicker than an operator can identify that there is an issue and make the corrections.”
Current signal technology uses computer-programmed signal times at the intersections. The adaptive signal control technology uses sensors to detect when vehicles are waiting at the signal and then automatically changes the timing at the light to keep traffic flowing.
At 16 miles long, the Bell Road Adaptive Signal Project will be one of the longest projects to receive the technology in the country. When complete, the federally funded project will include more than 50 signals located across seven jurisdictions.
“Bell Road is one of the heaviest traveled corridors in the Phoenix area,” said Wire. “It takes you from Surprise all the way over to Scottsdale and some areas see as many as 65,000 vehicles per day travelling through. The Bell Road Adaptive Signal Project will focus on four segments road centralized around the freeway interchanges because that’s where we see a lot of changes in traffic and if there is an incident on the freeway, drivers can detour off onto Bell Road.”
While headed up by MCDOT, the project is an initiative of the AZTech Regional Partnership.
The group hopes to have the system deployed and operational by the end of the year. Construction work is expected to begin in late spring. Drivers can expect some delays while the construction is underway.