- Associated Press - Saturday, February 4, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Officials in Sioux Falls say smarter traffic signals along a busy thoroughfare are saving drivers time and money.

The city invested $371,000 in the traffic signals along the East 26th Street corridor three years ago, and officials said driving along the roadway now takes less time. There also have been fewer traffic accidents, meaning less of a burden on city services and drivers’ wallets, The Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2iu569U).

Most of the city’s traffic signals operate on a timer, meaning the lights stay red or green no matter how many cars are waiting to cross an intersection. City engineers can adjust the timing of the lights, but only after congestion gets too heavy.

The newer lights, installed at 10 intersections, have an adaptive signal that uses computer processors and cameras to communicate traffic patterns in real time and adjust timing accordingly.

A study conducted by City Hall analyzed traffic behavior since the new traffic signals were installed, and it showed improvement.

“I would say we’ve seen good benefits, and we’re extremely pleased with the crash analysis,” city traffic engineer Heath Hoftiezer said.

The city’s figures, vetted by the internal audit office, show that travel times during rush hour dropped by 11 percent for eastbound drivers. Westbound drivers saw drive times dip by 5 percent during morning rush hour and by 10 percent during the late-afternoon rush.

But there was a spike in delays for eastbound traffic during the afternoon rush hour, likely because the old lights were skewed to favor eastbound lanes during rush hour at the expense of side streets, said Rich Oksol, the city’s internal audit manager.

The analysis determined that the most significant benefit has been the decrease in accidents. Before 2014, an average of one accident was reported every three days on 26th Street. That has since dropped to one accident every four days, meaning less crash-related expenses, from property damage to medical costs.

Oksol said those societal costs from crashes along the span have dropped by $891 per day.

“The results so far, preliminary on one corridor, are very promising,” Oksol said.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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