By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Drivers in Killeen can look forward to less stop and more go during peak traffic hours in the future.
The city instituted a traffic synchronization and traffic light upgrade last fall in the hope of improving traffic flow in the most densely packed areas of Killeen's streets.
City staffers identified 37 intersections last year with existing traffic signals along four corridors of the city where there is an immediate need for synchronization.
Those areas include sections of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Fort Hood Street, W.S. Young Drive, Trimmier Road and Rancier Avenue, Public Works Director Jim Butler said.
"What we're going to do is replace all those old controllers, all those old signal heads with new ones and cameras to monitor traffic flow," he said, "then time them in such a way that as you leave one traffic signal and get up to speed, when you hit the next one it turns green just in time as you get there."
City Manager Connie Green said the upgrades will help improve the flow of the traffic, but the challenge will come in the technical ability of the equipment to be synchronized properly.
"We are in the process right now of acquiring some new equipment that will help us synchronize the lights better. There's not an intersection anywhere that can't be overwhelmed by volume," Green said. "The staff is doing what we can do manually adjusting the system, but in order to make some improvements, it's going to require some new equipment, which is on order right now."
Some of the equipment can't be synchronized because of its age and type. But in the areas where city staff can make changes, they are in the process of doing that.
Green said it's a complicated situation because the equipment on adjacent lights have to be compatible with each other.
"It doesn't do any good to change a single light on one intersection if it can't communicate properly with another light down the road," Green said.
Mayor Pro Tem Ernest Wilkerson helped spearhead these upgrades, which should be operational by the end of 2007.
"We had recommended the synchronization a long time ago," Wilkerson said. "It makes the traffic continuous and makes the flow of traffic a lot better."
Wilkerson added that the timing of the installation will be critical because of the work that will be happening on the U.S. Highway 190 ramps this year.
"You have to replace more boxes and make sure you don't affect other boxes," he said. "We have to make sure that our synchronization doesn't interfere."
Butler said the city is in the process of acquiring all the necessary equipment, but installation is a slow process since integration is so important. The city has conducted traffic studies on time of day, traffic count and turning count, so the proper synchronization of a given corridor depends on many different factors.
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