WNY is finally syncing more traffic lights

After a decade of reports of out-of-sync signals on Delaware Avenue, 2 On Your Side has learned that new technology is expected to improve the drive soon.

BUFFALO, NY – Western New York has more than 2,000 intersections with traffic lights, and the vast majority are unoptimized, costing drivers time and money. But finally, there is a trend among local governments to use technology to better synchronize these signals.

“It’s getting there,” said Athena Hutchins, executive director of NITTEC, which helps coordinate traffic operations among several dozen jurisdictions and agencies in the region. “It’s going to take longer and it’s going to take a lot more funding to get this technology.”

RELATED: Stuck at Red: Buffalo’s Unsynced Signals

The cities of Tonawanda and Amherst have been at the forefront of this change, using grants to partially pay for dozens of Miovision cameras, which detect vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, then use artificial intelligence to improve circulation.

The town of Tonawanda started with Miovision cameras with one each at six different intersections on a busy stretch of Brighton Road.

“I was surprised at how much you were able to leverage from one camera,” said Matthew Sutton, a city engineer. “One camera does the whole intersection.”

When cars, bikes or people approach the intersection, the camera detects and counts them, then uses this data to make changes in real time. For example, if there is no cross traffic, a car will not be stuck at a red light.

“Vehicles move from end to end in less time and at a lower speed,” Sutton said. “A good timing plan has you constantly going 25, 30 miles an hour. You’re not going to be in a rush to go from 50 miles an hour to 0 mph and then try to catch up. between the two. “

Sutton said using the collected data with real-time adjustments, a corridor could see reductions in travel times of 25% or more.

Tonawanda is expected to soon install a Miovision camera at all 26 intersections with signals owned and operated by the city.

The town of Amherst has a similar goal, with Miovision cameras for its 56 flagged intersections. Phase 1 included 24 cameras and installation is underway on the remaining 32 as part of Phase 2, which will cost $675,000.

The New York State Department of Transportation has also installed Miovision cameras at approximately 20 intersections, including busy Niagara Falls Boulevard.

“Additional units will be installed in appropriate locations in future years as we continue with our capital plan,” a DOT spokesperson told 2 On Your Side.

Sutton said, at least for his city, it’s money well spent.

“It’s starting to pay for itself pretty quickly,” he said, noting that older intersection management devices were often damaged when roads were paved or even during snow-plow season. The new technology also saves money for drivers, who spend less on gas, waste less time in traffic and pollute less.

The successes of Tonawanda and Amherst could soon be replicated on one of Western New York’s most notorious thoroughfares: Delaware Avenue in the city of Buffalo.

2 On Your Side has been reporting on their out-of-sync signals for over a decade, most recently in 2019.

In a recent paving project, the city transformed the roadway from two lanes in each direction to one, with additional bike lanes and turning lanes. This led to even longer saves at traffic lights.

Nolan Skipper, a City of Buffalo engineer, said Miovision cameras should help ease that congestion.

“We’re going to be able to optimize the whole corridor in real time, and I think that’s key,” Skipper said.

The cameras were expected to have already been installed at three key intersections, with other technology at the remaining intersections, but the city contractor is still waiting for the manufacturer to deliver the cameras.

Skipper said he hopes to receive the cameras before winter conditions prohibit their installation on Delaware Avenue. Along with other measures, they will help the city optimize traffic flow between Niagara Square North and Forest Avenue.

NITTEC’s Hutchins believes that more and more of its member municipalities and agencies will turn to technology to improve traffic, as long as they find ways to pay.

“You’re not going to build more roads,” she said. “You’re not going to expand freeways and add more lanes, but let’s use technology to help us alleviate some of this congestion.”

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