80 percent of the city’s traffic signals are obsolete

Inwood Road, as depicted in the briefing
Inwood Road, as depicted in the briefing
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

A new proposal at City Hall calls for a an upgrade to the aging traffic signal system to the tune of $196 million. Right now, maintenance consists of periodic updates to individual components as they fail — not an overall replacement program.

The city council will review the plan during the Wednesday briefing.

According to the agenda, the average life span for a traffic signal is 20 to 25 years, and 80 percent of the 1,493 signals have surpassed that. The city stopped building them in 1990. These older signals don’t meet operational, structural or wind-loading standards set by the federal government.

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The proposal suggests funding 60 signals at $10 million annually for the next 25 years. It’s unclear whether the funds will come from.

The first part of the comprehensive upgrade would involve replacing the computer and communication system that manages traffic flow by the end of 2016. The next step is upgrading the infrastructure, which includes signal heads, poles, controller cabinets and radar detectors that can detect not only motorists but cyclists as well.

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The goal is to bring all the signals to good condition by 2040 and keep upgrading them on an on-going basis — every 25 years — so that we have fewer service requests, fewer accidents and less congestion.

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