December 29th, 2011

OPTIMIZING MOBILITY

Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT optimizes mobility by reducing reoccurring traffic delay.

Heavy directional commuter traffic is the primary source of reoccurring delay in Utah’s urban areas. Reoccurring delay can be minimized by strategies that help ease traffic flow. Here are some ways UDOT improves mobility:

Improved signal timing – UDOT Signal Operation Engineers are continually watching traffic and adjusting signals to work more efficiently.  Signals are equipped with detectors, computerized timing and variable phases. Modern signals include devices that have the ability to “see” traffic and change when needed. Signals that can change depending on traffic needs are called “actuated signals.”

Sometimes, timing needs to be adjusted to fit current traffic patterns. In urban areas, almost everyone encounters traffic signals on a daily basis. If signals are not operating correctly, it causes delay and frustration, and often minor, inexpensive improvements, such as providing more green light time in the peak travel direction, can reduce delay significantly.

Freeway ramp meters – UDOT uses ramp meters to even out traffic flow on the freeway. Metering works by breaking up bottlenecks, smoothing out surges and diverting some traffic to other ramps or nearby arterials. In other words, it keeps traffic on an even keel.

Travel times are posted on signs on I-15. In case of an emergency, TOC operators can indicate lane closures or anticipated delay.

Managing traffic flow – Traffic Using cameras and weather sensors, operators in the TOC can monitor traffic, detect incidents, and take action to return traffic flow to normal. UDOT’s CommuterLink website is the public face of the system, and road users depend on the website to steer clear of traffic delay by getting up to the minute information about weather, road construction and crashes. UDOT leaders have charged managers at the Traffic Operations Center with creating a world class Advanced Traffic Management System.

Travel Demand Management – UDOT encourages road users to make wise travel choices to avoid delay and reduce demand on busy roadways. Shifting a work schedule to avoid peak travel times, taking public transportation or trip chaining, for example, can make a difference to individuals and if enough people make wise travel choices, travel demand can be reduced.

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