Technology aims to better time traffic lights

Lone Tree partners with other cities to launch data-driven approach

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In another attempt to ease traffic in the south metro region, the City of Lone Tree has partnered with surrounding governments to pilot new technology that will ultimately change timing at traffic lights.

The city recently announced a new partnership with the cities of Centennial and Greenwood Village to implement traffic-monitoring equipment at some of the major corridors in the area.

The Intelligent Transportation System is a system of data-gathering equipment placed around the area at roads with the highest traffic volume. The data will be collected at Centennial’s Traffic Operations Center and will eventually serve as the foundation of a collaborative master plan between the three cities.

“Traffic and congestion do not recognize municipal boundaries and neither do our residents,” Mayor Jackie Millet said. “A regional solution is required and Lone Tree looks forward to employing innovative, smart technology in collaboration with our partners to provide real solutions for our communities.”

Funding partners of the project are the Denver South Economic Development Partnership and the Park Meadows Metropolitan District. The installation of the data collecting technology will cost about $50,000. The adaptive systems vendor has yet to be decided. City officials hope the technology will be implemented next year.

Commuters in the Denver Tech Center area currently face a rush-hour bottleneck on southbound I-25 near the County Line and C-470 interchanges. Yosemite Street, which runs parallel to I-25 to the west, became a viable alternative to beat the traffic.

Sometime around March 2017, Millet met with then-Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon, Rawkowsky, former Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Don Hunt and Mike Fitzgerald and staff from the Denver South EDP to discuss ways to ease traffic in and around the city. Yosemite was the best candidate for improvement for its high-density traffic during rush hour.

Data from 2016 shows daily traffic on Yosemite, south of the C-470 stretch, reaching almost 30,000 vehicles per day, according to Lone Tree public works officials.

Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko said the project would improve the safety and efficiency of the shared roadways. Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky agreed and sees the environmental benefits in the project as well.

This project speaks volumes about regional cooperation, demonstrates a coordinated approach to improving air quality, and positively impacts traffic flow,” Rakowsky said in a press release.

How it works

Beginning in 2019, data-gathering sensory equipment will be installed along Yosemite Street from Lincoln Avenue to Belleview Avenue. A private data analytics company, Blyncsy, will install the equipment in Lone Tree and Centennial.

The data will develop a description of the corridor based on traffic volume and certain points during the day. It will monitor traffic volumes, travel times and time spent waiting at stoplights. After the initial data collection phase, officials can begin the adaptive systems phase to make tweaks to the signals. The adaptive system will coordinate signals along a stretch of road.

Currently, signals are timed based on time of day and season, mostly. There are some signals with cameras to detect when a car is at a light. The adaptive system will be able to coordinate all signals along a corridor. The system can be used across a grid to massively impact traffic flow, but for now the city is experimenting with its uses along Yosemite.

“Everything used to be just through our camera detection, and the camera detection is still important, but now we need to know what the vehicles are doing,” said Lone Tree Public Works director John Cotten. “This whole piece of technology is changing at just an amazing rate …The communication we now have with the vehicles makes it much better. Now we can be smarter about our communication between signals. It’s able to crunch a lot more data.”

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