Traffic Signal Optimization Program

Since it began in 2004, the Traffic Signal Optimization Program (TSOP) has completed 112 projects that involved over 1,100 signalized intersections in the region. Projects launched through this program provide technical assistance to member agencies. This helps to improve traffic signal coordination and enables optimization and review of operations through simulation modeling.

What is signal coordination and optimization? This involves implementing the best possible timing settings that govern the operation of a traffic signal. The goal is to respond to the demands of motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians in a safe manner. Signal optimization leads to minimizing stops and delays, fuel consumption and air pollution emissions. It helps with maximizing the progression along an arterial.

Why is it necessary to optimize signals? Traffic signal optimization is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve traffic movement and make our streets safe and efficient. Signal optimization is performed for the following reasons:

  • To adjust signal timing to account for changes in traffic patterns due to new developments and traffic growth
  • To reduce motorist frustration and unsafe driving by cutting down stops and delays
  • To improve traffic flow through a group of signals, which reduces emissions and fuel consumption
  • To postpone the need for costly long-term road capacity improvement by improving traffic flow with existing resources

Signal optimization projects produce benefit to cost ratios as high as 40 to 1.
The TSOP has been championed by the MAG Intelligent Transportation Systems Program to provide traffic engineering assistance for refining signal operations across the MAG region. Typical TSOP projects cost about $30,000, with projects involving multiple agencies or coordination with freeways costing as much as $50,000.

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