Traffic signal light coordinator - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Traffic signal light coordinator

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May 20, 2003

Albany -- Did you know someone is in charge of synchronizing the traffic lights in Albany? His job is to program the red lights, so that your car can move smoothly through town.

That job is getting more difficult, with more and more motorists on the streets. When you stop at a red light in Albany, you are taking part in a carefully designed traffic flow plan. Walter House is the man who draws up that plan, and makes sure it works.

With the number of cars in Albany increasing nearly 3 percent a year, he stays busy. House said "I'm sure that a lot of people when they approach a traffic signal have a lot of negative comments, but it's my job to hopefully get them through the signals with the least amount of delay as possible, as safe as possible."

 House said " Just to see if there is enough green time to move all the cars that are stacked up. want to be able to move all cars that are waiting through one cycle without having to wait an additional cycle."

One intersection House is currently studying, Meredyth Drive at North Westover Boulevard. A new office complex and housing project is being built at that intersection near the Post Office, meaning lots of increased traffic. House records the traffic patterns.

House said "this is a field traffic count counter. Which we when know there is an intersection that needs to be evaluated, we will come out and log the actual turning movements of the vehicles in the intersection. So we will know how much time to allocate for each direction or for each movement." House takes his information back to his office, and uses computer programs to examine traffic flow and determine how to set traffic signals.

House said "We can actually go in and put in some timings, and see what kind of effect it's going to have on that intersection, to the traffic that goes through there. And we can play different scenarios and just see what kind of impact it's going to have."

 House has been the engineering associate over signals for the city of Albany for 15 years. His challenge now is to keep the increasing number of motorists in Northwest Albany moving smoothly. House said "We try to get them through the corridor if they are driving the speed limit."

 There are 128 traffic signals in the city of Albany and Dougherty County. 80 percent of them work under a centralized system program. 20 percent are in isolated areas, and work independently.

posted at 4:21 by jimw@walb.com