February 9


5 Things to Know About Minnesota Traffic Signal Maintenance

By Mike Spack

February 9, 2016

signal timing, traffic signal, transportation law

SignalTimingGuest Post by Bryant Ficek, PE, PTOE, Vice President at Spack Consulting

On May 22, 2015, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a transportation funding and policy bill that included traffic signal timing optimization. Here are the top five things you need to know about this Minnesota law:

  1. Impacts any government agency that owns at least one traffic signal on principal arterial roadway or a roadway with an average daily traffic volume greater than 20,000 vehicles per day
  2. Directs agencies to complete an inventory of all traffic signals under an agencies’ ownership, which is then to be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) district engineer
  3. Requires this initial inventory to have been submitted by December 30, 2015
  4. Requires development of a signal timing optimization plan, including retiming at least once every five years
  5. Obliges the agency to annually certify compliance with its plan and submit the certification as part of its annual maintenance expenditure report

Since many agencies do not own a traffic signal on a major road with the characteristics listed in item 1, this law does not directly impact everyone. However, MnDOT is encouraging every agency to follow the law or at least develop a signal timing optimization plan. It’s easy to see why this is a good idea, since improving the signal timing is a cost-effective way to improve safety and traffic flow, including:

  • Reducing overall intersection delays and corridor travel times
  • Saving fuel, along with lower emissions, through less vehicle idling
  • Accounting for recent development or travel pattern changes
  • Accounting for new signal timing guidance (like all-red timing or pedestrian crossing times)

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers have long touted traffic signal retiming as an economical way to improve traffic flow and decrease driver frustration.

We also think signal timing, and general signal maintenance, is a great idea for every agency. One of the most frustrating things for a driver is waiting at a red light, especially during off-peak times when no other traffic is around.

While some agencies are doing a wonderful job of updating timing and maintaining their signals, we hope this law will help everyone better recognize an easy step to improve traffic flow across the state. That’s also why we have developed a timing and maintenance tune-up service. This law can help make a noticeable difference in the drive of everyday commuters, and we want to help you in that goal. Call or email us for more information about our new low-cost service.

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Mike Spack

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

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