New traffic system could save headaches, time

Links lights from Sandy Springs to Milton

Posted:

NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Anyone who drives in North Fulton knows traffic is one of the largest problems the area has. Now Roswell, Alpharetta and Sandy Springs have banded together to try and fix this.

For the entirety of Ga. 9/Alpharetta Highway from Abernathy Road in Sandy Springs up to Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, each traffic light is joined to the others via a large, interactive system that is designed to make traffic flow better.

Called “Adaptive Traffic Control,” the system joins 38 traffic cameras and more than 60 traffic lights that can all be controlled from a control room in Roswell.

From this control room, staffers can view live feeds of intersections and control signal timing in emergencies. More importantly, during the day-to-day grind, the software the system uses automatically adjusts signal length based on how traffic is at any given moment. If there is a backup at Mansell Road eastbound, the system may give that light more priority than Ga. 9 northbound until traffic lightens up.

“This is the most complicated, yet largely invisible, project we have ever undertaken,” said Roswell Director of Transportation Steve Acenbrak.

Under typical systems, the lights are controlled either by a timer or basic programming based on whether there are vehicles stacking up in a direction. The adaptive system continually updates its timing to best alleviate backups. The problem with these formats is that they cannot handle emergencies or unusual traffic patterns. If there is an accident on Ga. 400, traffic begins to move onto Ga. 9, stressing the system much more than usual because it cannot adjust itself.

The new system will adjust itself to meet the new demand.

“This creates a smoother, more balanced flow, especially at peak times,” Acenbrak said.

Roswell Traffic Engineer Muhammed Rauf said drivers should notice the difference.

“The peak hours change daily,” Rauf said. “This notices variations at different times of the day. Before, we had set timings. But a Sunday during the holiday season has different traffic than any other Sunday.”

This will change, he said.

It can also shorten the time to fix problems. Before, the city would have to rely on residents calling 911 to report a problem – such as an accident or a light malfunctioning. Then 911 would call either emergency services or transportation workers. Now, the system will automatically report issues, and workers in the control room will be able to see the issues in real time themselves.

Roswell has been building the system since 2008. Jointly funded with the federal government, Roswell’s part of the project totaled $196,524. The construction of the project was federally funded at 100 percent, with Roswell’s portion at $1,321,974. The project concept and design was conducted by URS Corporation and constructed by R.J. Haynie and Associates Inc. In Alpharetta, the entire project was installed and paid for by the state, said Pete Sewczwicz, Alpharetta transportation director.

This system is the second adaptive control system on a state road in Georgia. It is also the second multijurisdictional adaptive control in the state.

“This will make a difference in our lives,” said Roswell Mayor Jere Wood. “We can spend more time doing things we enjoy and less time waiting for a light to change.”

MAP

The intersections included in the Adaptive Traffic Control network are all on Ga. 9. These are,

1 Bethany Road

2 Windward Parkway

3 Henderson Parkway

4 Mayfield Road

5 Cumming Street

6 Academy Street

7 Old Milton Parkway

8 Maxwell Road

9 Wills Road

10 Upper Hembree Road

11 Hembree Road

12 Elkins Road

13 Sun Valley Drive

14 Houze Way

15 Mansell Road

16 Commerce Parkway

17 Holcomb Bridge Road

18 Woodstock Road

19 Norcross Street

20 Oak Street

21 Oxbo Road

22 Park Square Street

23 Marietta Highway

24 Riverside Road

MH 04-30-14