If it seems that you have to stop at more red lights than usual on your morning commute, it is not your imagination. There is a reason for that. It's because the traffic lights have not been retimed in five years. The Department of Public Works (DPW) in Richmond, Virginia has begun to change that.
Richmond tries to retime traffic lights every few years, or when funding is available for that project. The city transportation engineer Michael Sawyer explained that residential growth in neighborhoods like Scott's Addition, Manchester, and downtown has created a greater need for an update.
Sawyer also reminds people that plenty of Richmonders are still working from home. When they do go into the office, they're going in much later than they used to go before the pre-pandemic. Therefore, traffic lights timed for a 7-9 a.m. morning commute no longer need to accommodate the same number of vehicles. However, the 5 p.m. end-of-day traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels.
Retiming project of traffic lights
The Virginia Department of Transportation, the Richmond Regional Planning Organization, and the Federal Highway Administration are participating in the $1.765 million project. According to DPW, each traffic corridor will take several weeks to finalize a traffic pattern that is appropriate for vehicles traveling in all directions.
Why the project is needed
There will be several results of retiming the city's traffic lights. Getting cars around quickly is important, but that isn't the main goal when it comes to retiming Richmond's traffic lights. Sawyer cited the following goals:
- The retiming is expected to improve safety for drivers.
- The retiming is expected to improve safety for pedestrians
- The project will reduce emissions.
- The project will improve traffic flow across the city.
The project is funded by a $1.8 million federal grant.
Number of traffic lights in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond has 480 intersections with traffic lights across the city. Of those, 400 of them, 115 south of the James River and 285 north of the James, will be retimed. The project started on March 10, 2023, and is expected to be completed by next spring. Most of the retiming is done remotely from the city's Traffic Control Center in City Hall, where 95% of the lights are managed.
Warning for motorists
A spokesperson for DPW warns motorists:
“All transportation users are encouraged to slow down, pay attention and stay alert as they become accustomed to the new traffic patterns.”
Comments / 2