New Traffic Signal System

Bicycle commuters in Carson City may have noticed some recent changes to city stop lights. The timings of the lights are being adjusted to help increase the flow of traffic and bring them up-to-date with federal standards.

Carson Street

My commute to work is largely east and west, and a pretty short distance. Waiting at traffic lights can be half of the time of my commute if I don’t make the light. Since the change, I’ve had to wait considerably longer at Musser and Stewart Streets. So long, that I sometimes take a less direct route to miss the lights, and shave off a minute or two. This isn’t always easy though, since there are many one-way streets in the downtown area.

On the plus side, the walk signals seem to be more automatic now, so you can often see the time counting down as you approach. This helps you decide if you’d like to sprint to make the light, or take it easy, knowing that the light will change too quickly.

But as reports, the traffic signal system is still a work in progress:

If you have recently noticed that some of the traffic signals in town don’t seem to be giving you enough time to get through them, help is on the way.

The city implemented a new coordinated traffic signal system two weeks ago, and have been making adjustments to it since then to work out the bugs, according to Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger.

Pittenger said they have had many complaints from citizens during that time about problems with traffic signal timing, especially being able to cross main thoroughfares from side streets.

“These all work on some form of a clock, and the question is how long does it take to get cars through each intersection?” Pittenger said. “We have to strike a balance between mainline streets and side streets.”
It’s a complicated system, Pittenger added, with signals that both sense traffic and others that are done on timing.

Pittenger said that sometimes they make changes in one area, but that may cause problems to arise elsewhere.

Significant changes were being implemented today, Pittenger said, and he hopes that most of the problems will be addressed by the end of the week.

“Residents have been asking us for several years to update the signal systems, and we also needed bring them up-to-date with federal standards,” Pittenger said.

One of the bigger problem areas was the intersection of Highway 50 East and Fairview/College, where the north-south signal wasn’t giving vehicles enough “green time” to get across. Pittenger also said he had recently been caught by a very short green light at Topsy Lane and South Carson.

“There are always going to be some delays and different people have different perceptions about what is acceptable and what isn’t,” Pittenger said. He added that they appreciate the feedback they have been getting, and are all working hard to fix the problems.

Has the new signal system affected your commute? What have your experiences been?

One thought on “New Traffic Signal System

  1. I live in the very far southwestern corner of town, near the Galaxy Theater. My biggest problems are trying to cross Carson Street from the west – either at Clearview and at Fairview. The signals to cross don’t “see” my bicycle, so I have to use the crosswalks. At both of these intersections, however, the crosswalk is only on the north side. Once across the highway, this puts me on the wrong side of the road, with multiple lanes of on-coming traffic and a cement worm divider between me and my lane. It means either waiting a third time to cross back to the south side so I can continue heading east, or ride on the north sidewalk for blocks.

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