Metro traffic lights to be controlled by Wi-Fi

Tuesday, September 9th 2008, 4:38 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Traffic signals are an obstacle for many metro drivers, which has prompted Oklahoma City to invest in Intelligent Transportation System, or ITS.

"This is relatively new technology," OKC ITS director Mark Meier said. "It exists, but it has not been fully tested."

The system would network existing signal controls through the city's new Wi-Fi and software, allowing for real-time monitoring of traffic flow and real time response.

The new technology could mean more green lights for commuters and less time sitting at an intersection, according to Meier.

Oklahoma City's Mayor and Council have pushed for greater use of green technologies, and the ITS is a direct result of that advocacy.

"The idea that we could speed up traffic flow, not only getting people to work faster and getting home more efficiently, but also to help keep the idling cars from clogging up our air is very win-win scenario," Mayor Mick Cornett said.

The city would be able to reduce the number of stops drivers have to make by five percent and overall travel time by eight percent. More than 500,000 people travel city streets each day.

"Those are actually extremely aggressive goals," Meier said. "The amount of dollars it's going to save our citizens is dramatic. If you had a five percent reduction in your fuel bills, you would consider that to be pretty significant."

Before the wireless system was considered, the city was prepared to spend $13 million on a hard-wire "smart light" system that would cover about 60 intersections.

By utilizing the ITS system with Wi-Fi capabilities, the city will pay $4 million to signalize 700 intersections.

City leaders said the plan has not been executed anywhere else in the country on such a large scale. The project is said to be complete in 18 months, city leaders said.