2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card
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2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card. The 2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card. Assess traffic signal operations across the country Provide benchmarking tool for agencies Publicize current state of systems Promote benefits of good signal operation

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The 2007 NationalTraffic Signal Report Card

  • Assess traffic signal operations across the country

  • Provide benchmarking tool for agencies

  • Publicize current state of systems

  • Promote benefits of good signal operation

  • Make case for additional resources

  • Present changes from the 2005 Report Card

  • Highlight success stories

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What Is the Traffic SignalReport Card?

  • Management

  • Signal Operation at Individual Intersections

  • Signal Operation in Coordinated Systems

  • Signal Timing Practices

  • Traffic Monitoring and Data Collection

  • Maintenance

An assessment of traffic signal operations

in the following six areas:

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How Was the Traffic Signal Report Card Developed?

  • Based upon responses to a self-assessment survey tool (50 questions)

  • Scoring system for each section and overall

  • Working group consisting of transportation professionals and NTOC members:

    • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    • American Public Works Association (APWA)

    • Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)

    • Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)

    • International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA)

    • U.S. DOT - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

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How Was the Self-Assessment Tool Distributed?

  • Significant advertising of the project through NTOC associations

  • Accessible to everyone via ITE’s Web site (still posted for anyone to use)

  • E-mailed to more than 500individuals

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Who Actually Participated?

  • At least one agency response (state or local) in 47 states

  • 276 local jurisdictions

  • 67 counties

  • 28 Canadian agencies

    ……417 agencies participated in 2007…..up from 378 in 2005

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Representing DifferentSize Signal Systems

These agencies maintain about 45% of the nation’s 272,000 traffic signals

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Noteworthy Findings

  • Major improvement not realized on national basis…but only 2 years since last survey

  • Some agencies experienced significant improvement

  • Individual intersections section scored highest, except for systems with less than 50 signals

  • Maintenance section was second highest score – indicates a basic level of operation to ensure safety and protect the agency from liability

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More Noteworthy Findings

  • Traffic monitoring and data collection section lowest score across all agency types and system size – indicates significant focus is needed

  • Very small systems (<50 signals) scored markedly lower in all categories

  • Overall, systems with 150-450 signals scored the highest – generally indicates balance of system size/complexity with resources

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Section 1 – Management – D-


  • Overarching, documented philosophy for how agency operates and times signals

  • Overseeing traffic operations outside of normal working hours

  • Coordination and information sharing with the public, emergency service providers and event managers


  • The overall low score for this section is the most noteworthy finding

  • Only half the agencies reporting have resources monitoring/managing traffic on a regularly scheduled basis

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Section 2 - Signal Operation at Individual Intersections - C


  • Regular review of signal timing

  • Review includes consideration of coordination, operations and safety

  • Develop and implement timing plans efficiently


  • Close to half of the agencies reported having little or no documented process that triggers a timing review

  • Once timing developed, installation and management of timing setting is good

  • Limited consideration and process to support other concurrent safety or operational changes

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    Section 3 - Signal Operation in Coordinated Systems - D


    • Regular review (3 years) of signal timing

    • Implementing updated timings quickly, once the need is established

    • Developing timings using a well-defined process

    • Including timing plans outside weekday peaks (off-peak, holidays, events and incidents)

    • Coordinating with adjacent jurisdictions


    • Only 2/3 of the reporting agencies are:

      • Conducting area-wide or corridor based signal timing review within 3 years

      • Have strong processes to develop signal timing

      • Coordinating across jurisdictional boundaries

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    Section 4 - Signal Timing Practices – C-


    • Applying time-space diagrams, timing parameters, queue discharge and turn bay capacity to signal systems

    • Field-reviewing timing plans

    • Adjusting timings for periods of light traffic (i.e. night-time) and special events


  • Nearly 60% of reporting agencies perform comparative analysis of cycle, offset, phase sequence, etc.

  • About 2/3 of the reporting agencies adjust timing for light traffic periods

  • About 2/3 of the reporting agencies have strong processes for timing actuated controllers

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    Section 5 – Traffic Monitoring and Data Collection - F


    • Regular process for gathering and analyzing traffic volume data

    • Quality assurance policies to review accuracy of surveillance data

    • Archiving and sharing data with other jurisdictions


    • Greatest potential for improvement

    • 43% reported little or no regular on-going program for collecting and analyzing traffic data for signal timing

    • Half reported that they do not assess data quality

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    Section 6 – Maintenance – C-


    • Adequate staffing and policies for signal technicians

    • Regular assessment of the condition of traffic control equipment

    • Asset management system to track maintenance, infrastructure and software


    • More than 2/3 of agencies have process in place to have a technician at an intersection within 1 hour (business hours) to 2 hours (non-business hours)

    • Almost 70% have regular preventive maintenance and operations review to assess condition of traffic control system

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    Where Do We Go From Here? Improving The Score

    GOAL: Performance excellence in traffic signal operation.

    • Proactive program management

    • Substantial traffic monitoring and data collection

    • Routine timing updates

    • Sound maintenance practices

    • Reasonably current traffic signal hardware

      * Benefits of investing in signal timing often outweigh costs by 40:1 or more!

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    Traffic Signal Program Management

    Essential Components:

    • Leadership focus

    • Strategic planning

    • Customer and market focus

    • Measurement, analysis and knowledge management

    • Workforce development and training

    • Process management

    • Focus on outcomes

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    The Benefits of Improvement— We Would See:

    • Reduction in traffic delay up to 40% and reductions in travel time up to 25%

    • Reduction in fuel consumption of up to 10%

    • Reduction in harmful emissions (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds) up to 22%

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    What Can Agencies Do to Make the Case for More Resources?

    • Complete the traffic signal self assessment

    • Review their score

    • Perform traffic signal system audit

    • Pursue additional funding – local, MPO, state, federal

    • Talk with their agency’s leadership and public information officer

    • Publicize the efforts they are making to improve traffic signal management and operations

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    Success Stories

    Results for several agencies showed significant improvement. Characteristics of these programs include:

    • Used 2005 self assessment to evaluate programs and focus on critical areas

    • Made targeted life-cycle capital investments to reduce maintenance costs

    • Placed emphasis on a program of regular timing updates and arterial coordination

    • Sought independent peer review

    • Facilitated regional coordination

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    City of Austin, TXScore Improvement: C to A

    Specific Actions:

    • Utilized 2005 self assessment tool as a benchmark to identify deficiencies

    • Proactive management vs. reactive fixes

      - Scheduled the retiming of signals to every 3 years

      - Staff assigned to zones, creating sense of ownership


    • Reduced maintenance calls from 5,000 to 2,500 in one year

    • 10% overall reduction in travel time for all arterials

    • 28% reduction in number of stops

    • 3.5% reduction in gallons of fuel

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    City of Alpharetta, GA Score Improvement: F to C

    Specific Actions:

    • Regular timing maintenance program

    • New technology

      • Ethernet communications

      • Internet-based application software


    • 23% reduction in stops

    • 8% reduction in fuel consumption

    • 17% reduction in trip times

    • 31% reduction in delays

    • Significant reductions in HC, NOx and CO emissions

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    What if My Agency Did Not Participate in the Self Assessment?

    • Complete the self assessment now http://www.ite.org/selfassessment/

    • Review the 2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card Technical Report http://www.ite.org/reportcard

    • Baseline your agency against the national scores

    • Perform a traffic signal system audit, (see Traffic Signal Audit Guide)http://www.ite.org/reportcard/traffic_audit_FINAL.pdf

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    • For additional information contact:

      Lisa Fontana TierneyTraffic Engineering Senior DirectorInstitute of Transportation Engineers1099 14th Street, NWSuite 300 WestWashington, DC 20005

      Phone: (202) 289-0222Fax: (202) 289-7722


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    Traffic Signal Tools

    • 2007 Traffic Signal Operations Self Assessment. Washington DC: NTOC, 2006 (http://www.ite.org/selfassessment/)

    • Traffic Signal Audit Guide (http://www.ite.org/reportcard/)

    • And more…..

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    Traffic Signal Resources (ITE)

    • Philip J. Tarnoff and Javier Ordonez. Signal Timing Practices and Procedures: State of the Practice. Washington, DC: Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2004.

    • Traffic Signal Timing: Moving State-of-the-Practice Closer to State of the Art. Intelligent Transportation Systems for Traffic Control, pg.1. USDOT ITS Joint Program Office. January 2007.

    • Benefits of Retiming Traffic Signals. Washington, DC: ITE, 2005.2007.

    • Assessment of Puget Sound Regional Traffic Signal Operations Program (www.ite.org)

    • Mid-America Regional Council Transportation Department’s “Operation Green Light” (www.ite.org)

    • Overview of the 2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card PowerPoint (www.ite.org)

    • Reno, Nevada’s Traffic Signal Retiming Project (www.ite.org)

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    • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

    • (www.transportation.org)

    • American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net)

    • Consortium for ITS Training and Education (www.citeconsortium.org)

    • Federal Highway Administration Resource Center, Peer-to-Peer Program (www.fhwa.dot.gov)

    • Arterial Management Program (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/arterial_mgmt/index.htm)

    • University Transportation Centers/Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Centers

    • Institute of Transportation Engineers (www.ite.org) – Technical Councils

    • Intelligent Transportation Society of America (www.itsa.org)

    • International Municipal Signal Association (www.imsasafety.org)

    • Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org)

    • National Cooperative Highway Research Program (www.trb.org/crp/about/divd.asp)

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    • The Traffic Signal Operations Specialist™ (TSOS) certification program is intended for candidates without licensure who have a wide range of education and experience with traffic signals, such as engineers and technicians/technologists. This certification compliments the Professional Traffic Operations Engineer™ (PTOE) certification and will not substitute for appropriate professional licenses when they are required for specific responsibilities or jurisdictions.

    • http://www.tpcb.org/tsos/

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    Arterial Management – Traffic Signal FHWA Web Site


    • Traffic Signal Management

    • Traffic Signal Operations & Maintenance

    • Traffic Signal Timing

    • Awareness & Outreach, Publications, Training, Research