Avoiding red lights… Is it possible?
“Downtown, it seems a little bit clustered,” driver Vickie Palmer says. “If you’re out on Man O’ War or something I feel like you could zoom down through, as long as you hit the first light, you can keep on going.”
Lexington has 380 traffic signals in all. Most of them actually talk with each other and to Lexington’s Traffic Management Center, or TMC for short.
"We’re routinely looking at signal timing, tweaking signal timing to get best signal flow," says Dowell Hoskins Squier, the Director of Lexington’s Division of Traffic Management.
Tweaking those signals can all be done on the fly over the city’s fiber optic network.
For instance, say an accident has tied up a few lanes of Nicholasville Road, traffic engineers can go into the system and change the timing on the lights in the area to keep traffic flowing.
"We coordinate with the police routinely [and] especially during special events,” Squier says.
Events like University of Kentucky football games and the upcoming NCAA basketball March Madness are all efforts of coordination between police, traffic engineers and the actual traffic lights.
The coordination of the signal timing takes a math and engineering degree to completely understand, but it is based mostly on traffic conditions and the time of the day.
According to the department, on most roads, if do go the speed limit, the system is setup so you’ll make mostly greens.
But on some roads, the theory doesn’t work. They’re actually set-up so you’ll more than likely hit a red. Tates Creeks is a culprit, but as traffic engineers say, it is for a reason.
“We don’t want to progress too much traffic to the New Circle Road interchange on Tates Creek going outbound in the afternoon peak hour,” Squier says. “Because then you create a queue that is unmanageable and we want to meter traffic as it approaches the interchange.”
She says if it wasn’t metered, you would end up getting backed up traffic through several signaled intersections.
The department does say that sometimes the signals do have issues, they are computers after all. Traffic management says if you do notice something is out of sync or just not working right, call 3-1-1 or use the LexCall app on your smartphone.