Synchronized traffic signals should have been in place long ago
The best idea to come out of city hall in a long time is a plan to re-time the lights at 1,000 intersections across the city, to improve traffic flow.
We are in a perpetual state of anxiety in Toronto over increasing gridlock and the huge
price tag – oh woe! - to build more public transit and rehabilitate our road infrastructure.
It’ll only get worse as long as the dithering continues over which way to go; even if a plan is agreed to tomorrow, it’ll likely take 20 years before it is completed.
But there are things that can be done right now, like improve the timing of lights to ensure traffic on main arteries flows through more intersections, which is cheap by comparison and delivers an immediate bang for the buck.
The city has budgeted about $18 million over the next two years to better synchronize the signal system on heavily travelled routes, and says testing of re-timed signals on downtown streets have shown significant improvement in traffic flow.
Anyone from Toronto who’s driven in Hamilton has no doubt marveled at how well traffic travels along the main downtown streets, due to a well synchronized signal system.
At times, I have driven from Highway 403 into the east end of Hamilton on King St. while barely catching a red light, even on a weekday. And it’s been that way for many years.
I know long stretches of main thoroughfares in Toronto – westbound Kingston Rd. comes to mind – that appear deliberately timed to force traffic to stop at about 60 per cent of the intersections.
Hamilton is no Toronto, but it’s still a busy place. With the technology available, there is no reason we can’t have a signal system that allows traffic to flow uninterrupted for long stretches.
Given the rush hour traffic jams and bottlenecks at intersections that we’ve lived with for so long, it makes me wonder why the city didn’t go to a synchronized system 10 years ago.
What were they waiting for?