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The goal of traffic signal coordination is to progress the greatest number of vehicles through the system with the fewest stops and shortest amount of delay in a comfortable manner.

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About Signal Timing

Timing and Coordination Program

There are several components to the City's traffic signal timing and coordination system: the Traffic Management Center, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), Traffic Signal Timing Team, and public participation.

The City of Colorado Springs Traffic Management Center is the City's facility that houses the ITS equipment and personnel. This is a centralized location that allows us to monitor and maintain the City's traffic signals and congestion management equipment.

The Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) is an integral part of the State and National effort to provide innovative transportation solutions. This system provides transportation information to motorists, emergency personnel, and transportation specialists. The system is a technological system that includes video cameras, computers, vehicle detection, variable message signs, and alternate routing. This information is also made available to the public through the City's Web site, the City's cable television Channel 18 and by direct communication with the local television and radio stations.

The Traffic Signal Timing Team is made up of the City's Traffic Engineer and technicians who specialize in the timing and coordination of the traffic signals. The Signal Timing Team gathers data, evaluates, and studies the major and minor arterial streets. They drive the arterial before and after the new coordination timing is applied to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the new coordination.

How Traffic Signals are Coordinated

Coordinated signals attempt to provide green lights for the major vehicle flow on a street. This requires that City staff gather data on the volume, speed, distance between signals, and the timing of individual intersections. When the data has been collected a study is done to determine the best timing and coordination of all intersections involved. This may require that the timing of the intersections be adjusted to facilitate the best flow of vehicles.

When the best coordination has been determined the Traffic Signal Timing Team implements the new timing. Studies are conducted to evaluate the efficiency and to make needed adjustments. Coordination throughout the city is continually monitored and is reevaluated as needed.

Each arterial has special coordination needs and may require that various types of special timing be implemented.

For example

  • To help the flow of traffic on an arterial it may be necessary to have a long cycle length. This may cause delays on the side streets.
  • Some arterials may have a heavier flow in one direction. This movement may be favored, causing more stops in the less traveled direction.
  • Some intersections may have lagging left turn movements. This means the left turn arrow comes on at the end of the green through light.
  • There may also be planned stops on long arterials to help maintain the flow of vehicles.

Effective coordination greatly improves the flow of vehicles on the arterial by minimizing the interruption of traffic flow and reduces air pollutants.