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City committee investigates ‘smart’ traffic system

City committee investigates ‘smart’ traffic system

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A smart transportation system could be coming to Edmond. Members of the Transportation Task Force listened Wednesday morning to a presentation for an Intelligent Transportation System.

A single user interface would link a wide range of traffic system elements to increase the efficiency of the roadway by enhancing incidence management, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume. Surveillance cameras would be placed at key intersections.

“It’s not just the traffic department that would be using it, but the school district, the water department,” Kacir said. “So there’s a lot of different ways of pulling together and using the resources we have collectively, and leverage the dollars to get the biggest bang for our buck.”

Remote monitoring would provide City of Edmond Traffic Planner Tom Minnick an instant alert during a signal light mishap. Time and employment cost would be saved by not always having to send workers to verify in the field. Minnick said the system would make his department less reactionary and more proactive.

The city currently has no surveillance cameras, but fixed video detection systems are placed at several intersections, Minnick said.

“All of this obviously drives toward increasing the safety for the traveler. Your maintenance personnel get better information,” Kacir said. “All of this goes to accurate and timely information for the traveling public.”

ITS simultaneously would share information with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Police Department, Emergency Management and Central Communications, Kacir said. Edmond residents commuting to Oklahoma City would have better information about road conditions before they leave, making them more productive, Kacir said.

Task force member Clay Coldiron said it may not always be feasible to improve traffic conditions by adding more lanes to the city’s roads.

“The rights-of-way availability — the cost of purchasing that rights-of-way — that’s where ITS comes in by managing traffic more efficiently with what you have out there as far as the existing geometrics in the streets,” Coldiron said.

The Obama administration identified ITS as a major program for stimulus money. A minimum of $16 would be saved by motorists for every ITS dollar the city would spend on signal timing, Kacir said. These benefits would include reduced travel time and fuel emissions. The average person’s time is worth $14 an hour, Kacir said.

Federal funds are available from the Department of Transportation whether it be mobility and safety or energy efficiency dollars, Kacir said. A draft of the ITS report and probable cost is expected within two months, Minnick said. Kacir said the report is 80 percent complete.

“We’re putting together a vision for the city for what they can start working towards,” Kacir said.

The Transportation Task Force will make a recommendation to the City Council based on its findings.

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