November 7


Traffic Signals Failing Us?

By Mike Spack

November 7, 2007

Traffic signals aren’t exactly failing us, but the United States got a D in the recent National Traffic Signal Report Card.  (This is up from a D- in 2006…. baby steps I guess.)  Unfortunately the report doesn’t show the grades of individual agencies.  It is my understanding Mn/DOT does a pretty good job with their traffic signals.  Probably the worst traffic signals in Minnesota are in Minneapolis.  This is about to change though.  Don Sobania at Minneapolis told me they have received word from the Metropolitan Council that they are getting grant money to update their signal system.

My brother-in-law lived in Uptown about ten years ago (a neighborhood in south Minneapolis known as the place to live for 20-somethings).  Down his block was an old traffic signal controlled by a mechanical clock.  You could hear the gears shifting as the signal went through the different phases of its cycle.  I explained this to him and we figured out the signal timing on the way back from the bar one night.  A few weeks later he walked by the signal controller with his girlfriend.  They heard the clunk of the controller switching and she asked him what that noise was.  Chris nonchalantly said it is a people counter and then stepped off the curb again right as the green light switched to yellow.  Ka-chunk went the controller again.  I think she is still confused about the people counter.  Anyways, Minneapolis is going to get rid of all of these dinosaurs with the grant money and put in updated traffic signals controlled by computers!  They should be able to leap into the C to B if the funding comes through.

  • I never heard of that kind of traffic signal because all of the traffic lights where I live don’t have that. I would to see one though just to how it looks and functions.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

    Get these blog posts sent to your email! Sign up below.