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Beat the Traffic: New surveillance stop lights for Pearland’s FM-518

by Katherine Whaley / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 18, 2011 at 2:29 PM

PEARLAND, Texas -- The City of Pearland has a a new solution to help keep traffic moving along one of its busiest streets.  It’s using a new kind of technology to help synchronize stop lights along FM-518. 

According to drivers there, traffic on a good day on FM-518... is not so good.  It’s bumper to bumper, and slow. 

"I’ve lived here for 15 years now and it’s never been this bad," driver Roger Maldonado explained.  In the past ten years, Pearland’s population has jumped from 34,000 to 92,000 thousand, according to City Engineer Narciso Lira.  That rapid growth means growing travel times.

"You used to just roll through that light down there and go up to 288 without even stopping but now you can’t do that anymore," driver Joe Kapacinskas told KHOU 11 News.

To speed up traffic, the city is installing a so-called "adaptive light-synchronization system".  It’s designed for streets like FM-518, where congestion at times is tough to predict.  One hour the heaviest traffic might be eastbound, and the next hour westbound.  The new system includes cameras which monitor the  number of cars that go through each intersection, which will cut down on the amount of time drivers have to wait at red lights.  Based on the car count, the system immediately adjusts to give longer green lights to the lanes with the most congestion. 

"In essence, it takes the real time traffic data and adjusts the traffic plans accordingly," Lira said.

He explained the reason for the erratic traffic pattern, "primarily you have a mixture of commuter traffic, people trying to get to and from work, along with people trying to get to their destinations  to either shop, dine, or entertainment." 

Thirteen intersections between Kirby and FM-1128 will get the new lights.  Installation begins in July, and should be wrapped up by mid-fall.  It’s partially funded by a federal grant, and drivers say, bring it on.  "It would be a much welcomed improvement if they do that," Kapacinskas said.

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