Governor Larry Hogan has unveiled a phase of the state’s traffic relief plan, which will deploy “smart” traffic signals.
Governor Larry Hogan has revealed that the State Highway Administration is currently investing $50 million to improve traffic conditions, affecting roughly 700,000 motorists daily on over a dozen highway corridors throughout Maryland. The Maryland Department of Transportation will be upgrading to “smart traffic signals,” which use data to synchronize traffic lights on busy corridors to help ease and prevent major traffic congestion.
MDOT plans to install the new smart traffic signals during the next year on 14 major corridors, two of which will be in Prince George’s, Baltimore, and Harford counties, three in Charles County, and one in each of Montgomery and Howard counties. The roads on which smart signals will be installed are MD Route 2, MD Route 3, MD Route 139, US Route 40, MD Route 5, MD Route 228, US 301, US 1, MD Route 22, MD Route 202, and MD Route 108. For full details of Hogan’s plan, visit the Governor’s website.
The new signals are part of Hogan’s Traffic Relief Plan which was announced in September — adding more toll lanes to the Beltway, I-270 corridor, and Baltimore Washington Parkway, as well as a $100 million Innovation Congestion Management Project to reduce commute times between Frederick and I-495 via an automated smart traffic system consisting of real time traffic signs and intelligent signals.
The smart signals, through real-time traffic data, detect traffic conditions while adjusting the timing of traffic lights in order to help move traffic more efficiently. Traffic lights currently being used are more than 20 years old and pre-programmed, whereas smart traffic light software has the capability to monitor the number of cars on the road from just one intersection all the way up to an entire corridor so that the lights are synced together if necessary. Regular traffic lights are programmed according to traffic patterns but are incapable of adjusting to varying factors such as accidents and other uncommon occurrences the way that smart traffic lights can.
MDOT plans to install the smart traffic lights based on traffic patterns, volume, and capacity of intersections. The Department has conducted studies in local areas which showed a commute time reduction of over 10 percent. Anne Arundel County already has three smart signals in place, while Baltimore County has two. Installation of the smart traffic lights will begin in a month, and all 14 of the proposed corridor installations are expected to be in place by the end of 2018, after which the state plans to put the technology to use on other busy corridors within the state.