The largest city in the U.S. state of California has implemented a project which has developed over the last 30 years. All the traffic lights are now synchronized and drivers argue that the differences are noticeable.
Traffic lights are one of the main sources of traffic jams in the world. The apparent inability to synchronize their function on the main boulevards of cities makes the “plugs” of traffic to become a common phenomenon, and their effects – increased car consumption, psychological stress, pollution and wasted time – affects almost any driver who tries to go through a big city at least once in a lifetime. Even though the records related to the duration of traffic jams are far from what you would expect – in 2010 in Beijing a traffic jam lasted a month because of some road repairs that were planned wrong – every minute you spend in the midst of the city’s other cars are an additional source of nerves. A list of the biggest traffic jams has been presented in an article dedicated to this subject a year ago.
THE LOS ANGELES EXAMPLE
Well, in this context that absolutely no big city in the world escapes, those who lead the fate of the American city of Los Angeles have recently succeeded in developing the first system of linked traffic lights on the entire length of the main avenues and streets. The project has already obvious effects among drivers who feel extremely satisfied with the flow of the traffic, and even transportation times have decreased in some parts of the city by up to 12%.
“You can clearly see how the cars are moving. It is a completely unusual thing for Los Angeles, a huge relief,” says Michael Rose, a freelance film producer that NBC quoted. “You can immediately see the difference; it’s fantastic. The only question is why the authorities have not done this earlier?”
Although this project has the desired effect, its development and implementation were not as easy as one might think. Thus, in order to correlate all the lights on the surface of the city – 1215 km2, U.S. officials leading the city needed no more than 30 years and an investment of about 350 million dollars (about 270 million EUR).
The project began somewhat accidentally when the 1984 Olympics’ organizers have synchronized the traffic lights in the area of the stadiums and arenas dedicated to this event. Because the effect was positive, the authorities have announced the start of the development of the project for the whole inhabited are of the city of Los Angeles and its suburbs.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Once the entire system was electronically and digitally set with real-time simulations of traffic in the city, signs indicating the optimum speed that the drivers should move so that the flow of traffic could be as smooth as possible were posted along the streets and boulevards of Los Angeles. The project involved the installation of a complex network of cameras through which engineers can adjust things as they happen when, for example, only a part of the city is jammed.
Naturally, there are some areas where the avenues are, however, still overcrowded. “There will be periods when the system will be simply overloaded. At peak times, for example, is simply impossible for drivers to maintain the given speed to drive towards their home or the office without sitting at traffic lights. But from now on, rush hour jams congestion will last less than usual,” say traffic experts quoted by NBC.