New traffic light system could ease traffic

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond now has the green light to upgrade its traffic light system. The days of being stuck in traffic at a red light could soon be over.

This new state of the art system will allow city engineers at City Hall to keep the lights green longer to ease traffic jams.

It's one of the most frustrating sights there is - a red light when you're stuck in traffic. You might not have to see this as much with a new state of the art traffic light system soon to be installed in Richmond.

City Transportation Engineer Tom Flynn says right now it's hard for him to know if there's a traffic jam if he's in his office.

"Now we rely on calling someone in and dispatching someone out there," Flynn said.

Soon there will be a new control room in City Hall watching traffic conditions at all 500 traffic lights in real time. From there, engineers will be able to change the traffic lights to ease congestion.

"Many of the problems that may occur, we'll be able to actually fix from literally sitting here at City Hall," Flynn said.

You probably won't notice any physical changes to the traffic lights, but cameras will be installed at many of these intersections.

If you're looking to come downtown and are curious about what traffic looks like, you'll be able to see real-time images of traffic on your home computer just by going to the City's website.

Twenty-five of the city's busiest intersections will have closed circuit cameras installed.

However, this is not to say you will never have to wait at a traffic light ever again. City engineers say the difference in your commute will be subtle.

"Probably it's not something you'll notice," he said. "But if you think about it later, 'hey I haven't been experiencing as much of a delay as I used to.'"

This entire project will cost roughly $20 million - all of that money coming in the form of federal grants.

Traffic lights downtown, in the Fan and in the West End will be upgraded first. Work will start later this month.

Work on traffic lights south of the James will start next year. It will take about five years for the new system to be up and running citywide.

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