CDOT eyes Grand Ave. traffic signal changes |

CDOT eyes Grand Ave. traffic signal changes

State transportation officials are exploring the use of an "adaptive" signal timing system along Highway 82/Grand Avenue through Glenwood Springs. The switch could shorten waits getting onto the main drag from side streets, as well as pedestrian movements across Grand.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Motorists trying to get onto Grand Avenue from side streets, or pedestrians for that matter trying to cross the street during peak traffic times, might find a little quicker go of it under a new signal timing management system being studied by state transportation officials.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is exploring what’s called an “adaptive signal system” for Highway 82 through Glenwood Springs. It would complement the existing coordinated signal system where traffic signals operate in concert with one another rather than independently.

CDOT Region 3 spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said the enhanced adaptive system was implemented on U.S. 24 through Woodland Park, where significant improvements resulted in the movement of side traffic onto the main drag there.

“They used to get between 10 and 25 calls a week from people complaining about getting stuck on side streets. That’s gone to just one or two calls a week after the new system went in,” Trulove said.

A similar situation arises in Glenwood Springs during the peak morning and evening traffic times when upvalley commuters are passing through town on Highway 82 and local traffic is also at its busiest.

Use of the enhanced signal timing system is still in the study phase, Trulove said. The study follows a video monitoring period last summer designed to gauge the flow of traffic at key intersections along Grand Avenue and from side streets.

If implemented, the new system would make use of “real time” data such as traffic volume, and adjusts the signal timing as necessary, explained David Oldham, traffic operations assistant for CDOT Region 3.

It also recognizes gaps in traffic, which could trigger a light change before the normal cycle is up, he said.

“This can vary and depends how the operating agency wants to operate the timing,” Oldham said.

Different timing systems are available for use depending on local conditions, “and there are multiple functions of each system,” he added.

CDOT is still in the process of studying the existing conditions along Grand Avenue, and no permanent changes in the signal timing have taken place yet, Oldham said.

The existing coordinated system takes in the entire stretch of Highway 82 through Glenwood Springs from the Interstate 70 eastbound ramps to the south Blake Avenue access into the Roaring Fork Marketplace.

An adaptive system would encompass certain segments of the corridor, Oldham said.

Meanwhile, any actual changes to the traffic signals along Grand in recent months were likely due to CDOT’s routine safety operations related to the Grand Avenue bridge construction, Trulove said.

“We did increase the cycle length on the main line to give more green light time and aid with traffic flow during the construction,” she said.

If the adaptive model is implemented, she said it would have to go through a formal procurement process and would likely be put in place before the planned detour period that will be part of the bridge construction project in late 2017.

City of Glenwood Springs Engineer Terri Partch said the new signal timing would be beneficial to keep Highway 82 traffic moving during peak times, especially when the detour is in place.

However, “In those peak periods, you could be waiting at lights on side streets longer,” she said.

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