Norman, Okla., Begins Phase One of Traffic Signal Project

Midstate Traffic Control Inc. is beginning the first phase of the upgrade with 39 of Norman’s 153 traffic signals, including signals on primary corridors such as Boyd, Lindsey and a few on Highway 9.

by Katie Standlee, The Norman Transcript / August 6, 2019
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(TNS) — Norman, Okla., will see the start of a citywide upgrade Monday for the Traffic Signal Emergency Vehicle Detection System.

Midstate Traffic Control, Inc. is beginning the first phase of the upgrade with 39 of Norman’s 153 traffic signals, including signals on primary corridors such as Boyd, Lindsey and a few on Highway 9. Essentially, the project will upgrade the technology that preempts traffic signals when fire trucks or ambulances approach an intersection during emergency responses.

David Riesland, traffic engineer for Norman, was responsible for the planning development of the project and said the city’s vendor offered them GPS technology, which has several advanced features and the ability to track where emergency vehicles are going. The GPS technology is an alternative to the infrared technology that’s currently in use.

“I think it’s important that we understand whenever the signal is being preempted, why and for how long,” Riesland said. “We can track better with this equipment than we could with our old equipment.”

Weather permitting, the project is expected to be completed in 90 days, and is funded by federal transportation safety funds at $578,976. Riesland said there are two more phases, but those still require funding so there isn’t an anticipated start date yet.

The traffic signal project has been in the works for four or five years now, but with the new technology and funding coming available, Riesland said they decided to move foward with phase one. With the new technology, he said, the city will be able to tell how signals are preempted and how long the preemptions last.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is handling construction oversight with construction inspection, management and administration of the project. Annahlyse Meyer chief communications manager for the City of Norman, said while the project is ongoing Norman drivers should expect brief temporary lane closures during the new equipment installation, but the project should have minimal impact on traffic.

“There’s going to be some impact while they are putting the equipment on the traffic signal, but you are talking about hours not days or weeks, it’s a very short duration project at each intersection,” Riesland said.

Some of the other current construction projects have added this new technology, Riesland said, but this traffic signal project specifically designates upgrading the technology on existing intersections. Ultimately, he said the goal is to have every intersection in Norman outfitted with this new technology so they can better track when emergency vehicles go through the system, and which signals they specifically preempted.

Meyer said public safety is one of the City of Norman’s top priorities, and the new technology will help with response times. She said the new technology will enhance the ability of the city’s emergency vehicles to preempt those traffic lights when there’s an emergency situation.

“We want to make sure our residents are safe and when there’s emergency situations that the emergency vehicles are able to make their way across town and get to those people in need as quickly as possible,” Meyer said.

©2019 The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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