City wants to test 'smart' traffic signals on Oahu streets

City wants to test 'smart' traffic signals on Oahu streets

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's called "adaptive traffic control signal technology," and it's a system other cities use to keep traffic moving during peak traffic times.

Now, City Transportation Services Director Michael Formby wants to test drive it here.

"Studies from those other cities showed that it can improve traffic commute times. Less delay means less gas cost, less pollution, less stress," he said.

In Honolulu green light times are based on time of day. They're longer during the morning rush for traffic coming into the city, and on outbound corridors during the afternoons. They can be manually adjusted.

But smart -- or "adaptive" -- signals adjust themselves.

"It adapts to what's happening on the street at every intersection," Formby said.

The computer system taps into the city's traffic cameras, counts cars, and sends the information ahead.

"The system communicates between the intersections. It knows how many cars are cueing on the side streets, how many cars are traveling through. The goal is to just be more efficient," Formby said.

Traffic engineer Panos Prevedouros believes Oahu is ideal for smart signal technology and drivers would love it.

"It learns about surges of traffic coming, quickly adapts the light to be green longer, and the surge disappears," he said.

Formby wants to contract a consultant who will recommend which streets or highways to test.

"When the consultant identifies it as the best street for this kind of technology then I want to measure before it's put in and measure after to make sure it proves itself out," he said.

He estimates it will cost $25,000 to $40,000 per unit per intersection, depending on the system the city selects. Testing could begin late next year.

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