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Drivers on Monticello Avenue in James City County will spend less time sitting at red lights if a new system set to be installed later this year works as planned.
The system will synchronize stoplights from News Road to Ironbound Road at the Williamsburg line to work in unison. VDOT has had success using the system to reduce congestion in other areas, including along Route 17 in York County.
“The one thing that makes it work so well is that all the lights are synchronized together, so when it releases traffic at one, the other reacts to traffic coming,” said Rossie Carroll, VDOT’s Williamsburg Residency Administrator. “You’ll catch three or four green lights in a row heading down Monticello.”
The current system uses timers to regulate traffic, allowing for much less control over the flow of vehicles along the busy corridor.
“This adapts. It’ll change itself,” Carroll said. “It does it as a whole system. All nine intersections will be linked together to tie that main line through. Not to say when you hit a green light you’ll hit one all the way through, but it’s going to do everything it can to keep it moving.”
The new system uses sensors on each signal pole to observe traffic conditions. That information is funneled to hardware located in boxes at each signal, allowing the system to make real-time decisions about which lights should be green and when.
“I think it’s a good system,” Carroll said. “It’ll maximize the through traffic through the corridor. That section has been largely developed over the few years, so I think it’ll help improve traveling along Monticello.”
Work will begin later this month to install the system, which is expected to be operational by late August to early September. The installation will not require the closure of any travel lanes, and no delays are expected for drivers.
“Most of the work will be done outside of the travel lines in the signal boxes, which are located on the shoulders,” Carroll said. “Drivers won’t see anything until system comes online.”
VDOT has already spent $90,000 to link the signals at the nine intersections. The synchronization equipment will cost an additional $360,000. Funding for the project comes from the VDOT Hampton Roads office, which is allocated money by the state each year to pay for small projects.