Gilbert conducting study on town's traffic signals - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert conducting study on town's traffic signals

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Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 3:47 pm | Updated: 3:08 pm, Fri Dec 3, 2010.

Vice Mayor Les Presmyk has a quick answer when asked the biggest reason that Gilbert is performing a study on the coordination timing of the town's 172 traffic signals.

"There are council members, the mayor and a whole host of residents who are unhappy with the way things are," Presmyk said, chuckling. "We all have to drive in it. I can think of a few more reasons, but that's the most important one."

With traffic signals in better synchronization, flow will improve, accidents should decrease, and emergency vehicles will have fewer clusters of cars to navigate through, Presmyk said. Also, there would be less pollution from idle and accelerating vehicles.

"We're never going to have a completely seamless system, but we should move traffic better than we do," Presmyk said.

Timing updates have already been conducted on six signals on Power Road, between Village Parkway and Pecos Road.

A $500,000 federal grant is funding the study, which uses computer simulation to recreate travel on town roads, test timing plans and implement changes. Adjustments will be made based on observations, with new studies expected every 3-5 years.

"That's something that will be important, to keep on top of it," town spokeswoman Beth Lucas said. "Every time a new store opens, that will be something that can potentially change the traffic flow."

Much has changed in Gilbert since the last timing study was done in 2005, when the town had about 100 signals.

The completion of the San Tan Freeway and more lanes on U.S. 60 have changed the primary flow of traffic in Gilbert from east-west to north-south. Large shopping centers and other attractions have opened.

And, in many ways, technology is still slow to keep up with the explosive growth Gilbert has experienced in the last two decades.

"One of the things that kept us from doing this earlier is that we decided that, when we had the technology that could expedite traffic, we wanted to have enough to do it all," Presmyk said. "In the past, we (grew so quickly), if we had tried to get technology, it would have been obsolete by the time we were ready to use it.

"Now, we feel we can have all of that technology in place where in 10 or 20 years, we can capitalize on it, figure out how traffic patterns have changed, and make any adjustments."

Also, Gilbert has secured $44,800 in federal funds for 224 countdown pedestrian signals that display the number of seconds before the "don't walk" signal takes effect.

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