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Palm Coast Will Optimize Its 50 Traffic Signals, But No: They Still Won’t Be Synchronized

| December 2, 2014

Traffic signals hanging from wires are being replaced by rod-like hardware across Palm Coast as part of a modernization of the city's 50 signals. (© FlaglerLive)

Traffic signals hanging from wires are being replaced by rod-like hardware across Palm Coast as part of a modernization of the city’s 50 signals. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast is about to optimize its 50 traffic signals. But don’t get too excited. Optimization is not synchronization. But once accomplished, the optimization will still make it more efficient and less frustrating for drivers to get through intersections.

Tuesday evening the Palm Coast City Council was expected to approve a $55,000 study by DRMP, an Orlando-based engineering firm that focuses on traffic signals, to analyze the city’s system and propose improvements. The actual improvements will cost more, but the city has budgeted $550,000 for traffic signal improvements in 2015. The city is hoping to have the project partially completed by the time the six-laning on Palm Coast Parkway is done: drivers will notice the changes along that road, which will be first to be optimized.

City Manager Jim Landon explained to the council last week why the study and the improvements were necessary—chiefly, to reduce wait times at individual intersections. But he was quick to caution against false expectations.

“I’m going to tell you one of the things it won’t do,” Landon said, “because I think the perception is we need to time our signals so when you drive down Belle Terre you can start at Matanzas Woods Parkway and go all the way to State Road 100 and never hot a red light. That will not happen. When you have signals as far apart as we have on Belle Terre, you will never have that happen because of left turns, because if you do that you’ll have people sitting at a red light that would be waiting for green when nobody else is around. So what we do is try to optimize each signal so that when you get there, people get through efficiently, but don’t have to wait when there’s nobody else going in the other direction, because there’s nothing more frustrating to someone sitting there and nobody’s going.”

The city will save about $22,000 by doing its own inventory of its traffic signals. Newer signals, for example, have timing lights for pedestrians to cross, older signals don’t: “Those are the kinds of improvements we can make incrementally,” Landon said.

“Why do we need to bring in a consultant to do what appears to be normal functions of operating a traffic system?” council member Bill McGuire asked.

“It is actually going beyond that,” Landon said. “We have our system that we operate, but what we’re trying to do is go to that next level and bring in experts who have knowledge of what is out there and how we can best optimize it,” without duplicating what’s already in place.

Council member Jason DeLorenzo is also concerned about aesthetics: he wants DRMP to propose how best to reduce the amount of signalization hardware at each intersection so it’s standardized and less cluttered.

The council is expected to approve the project at its meeting this evening, at 6:30, at the Palm Coast Community Center.

Traffic Signal Optimization Study.

5 Responses for “Palm Coast Will Optimize Its 50 Traffic Signals, But No: They Still Won’t Be Synchronized”

  1. The Truth says:

    Why does the City need to hire a firm for this type of work? Isn’t this why we have a Traffic Engineer?

  2. HonkeyDude says:

    So in other words all the lights will have the same guts. They’ll have blinky yellow lights when the go straight lights are green. Also cross walls will have count down clocks. Wow all these improvements for just over half a mil. To tune up 50lights….. what a bargain.

  3. Nancy N says:

    I really hope they fix the light at the north end of Pine Lakes and Belle Terre when they do this! I discovered recently that the signal won’t trigger if you are waiting to turn right off of westbound Pine Lakes (I guess it technically is named something else on that side of Belle Terre) onto Belle Terre.

    That turn is completely blind – you can’t see two car lengths down Belle Terre sitting at that light coming out of that neighborhood, and traffic on that stretch of Belle Terre is frequently traveling as fast as 60mph even though it is a 45mph zone. Pulling out without the light guaranteeing traffic is clear would be suicidal.

  4. Jason Driggs says:

    A monkey could randomly turns the lights from green to red and would do a better job then the way they are timed right now.

    Any news on the Matanzas Woods I-95 Interchange construction?

  5. Red Y. Green says:

    A half a million dollars to optimize 50 traffic lights. And I thought our federal government was throwing away money !!!!

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