Carson City upgrading traffic lights for smoother navigation |

Carson City upgrading traffic lights for smoother navigation

Sandi Hoover
Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Motorists soon may notice traffic flowing a little more smoothly around town once the Carson City Public Works Department upgrades the city’s traffic signals.

“The traffic signal upgrade (will) improve the coordination between traffic signals,” said Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger. “The timing of many of the signal cycles will be adjusted to improve the efficiency of the flow of traffic.”

Pittenger said the upgrades will be performed throughout Carson City and northern Douglas County next week from Monday through Thursday.

Cycle length changes may be noticed, he said, citing an example of a light that might take 130 seconds to cycle through now dropping to 105 seconds.

“Overall time to get through the intersection would be shorter,” he said.

The city used a professional traffic operation engineer to help bring the project to fruition.

“The study was initiated out of necessity to compensate for the many improvements made to the roadway network and changes in traffic volumes in recent years,” he said.

The biggest changes were the extension of the Carson City Freeway to Fairview Drive, the North Stewart Street extension to Roop Street and the widening of North Roop Street.

“There is now a lot less traffic north and south on Carson Street, and more on Fairview,”he said.

Motorists should notice a smoother traffic flow by at least November.

“There will always be competing demands,” he said. “(Signals on) Roop and Fifth streets are coodinated, but where they intersect, there could be such a situation.”

The transportation department has been working on the project about half a year, including data collection, Pittenger said, and a consultant studied a number of details such as travel times through town and direction of travel from intersections.

“In the spring, the Nevada Department of Transportation conducts a study all over town, and we married that data with the consultant’s data,” Pittenger said.

Regional Transportation Commission Chairwoman Shelly Aldean said the consultant gave a presentation to the RTC last week.

“The whole objective is to make traffic flow more smoothly and efficiently and to reduce idling times for environmental reasons, among other things,” Aldean said.

“The analysis helps to ensure that our traffic lights are operating at peak efficiency,” she said.

Motorists will benefit from the improved traffic signal coordination and safety enhancements, Pittenger said, “and the cycle timing of traffic signals maintained by Carson City will be improved to meet current standards and best practices being implemented nationwide.”

The new practices include requirements such as addressing how long it takes a pedestrian to get through a crosswalk.

The project also takes into account time-of-day changes for peak traffic periods, such as on Highway 50 East where traffic coming into Carson City is heavy in the morning, and the opposite in the evening, when more traffic is headed out of town, he said.

Ninety-five percent of the cost is being paid by federal funds, Pittenger said.

“When we implement this, we expect that some fine-tuning may be required, and we are happy to answer questions,” he said, “but we’re looking forward to getting the most out of this upgrade and making sure our system is as efficient as possible.”

For more information on the traffic signal upgrade, call Pittenger at 887-2355.