New traffic signals get green light in Lexington

tflach@thestate.comAugust 19, 2013 

  • Road backups around new school

    Congestion rapidly became a hallmark of new River Bluff High School near Lexington Monday.

    Traffic backed up about a mile at times on U.S. 378 and Corley Mill Road as many of the 1,500 students went to their first day of classes, police said.

    “It was about what we expected,” town police Chief Terrence Green said.

    Improvements intended to ease the bottleneck won’t be ready before spring.

Retail centers and other development in and around Lexington that add traffic signals leading in and out of their sites will be required to put in equipment meshing with a network intended to reduce road congestion, town leaders said Monday.

Officials say that requirement will be adopted before a network of 32 signals run by cameras and computers is put in place by early 2015.

“We want it to be in sync,” Mayor Randy Halfacre said. “It would be ineffective if not part of the system.”

The signals – designed to adapt to traffic flow – will be concentrated on U.S. 378 and S.C. 6, officials said.

Mille-long backups during rush hour are common downtown where three commuter routes intersect.

Installation of the signals at all major intersections puts the community of 18,000 residents “on the cusp of the leading edge of new technology,” Halfacre said.

Motorists will encounter a “green light tunnel” moving vehicles quicker on thoroughfares during rush hours and other periods of heavy traffic, engineering consultant Dan Dennis said.

Residents and commuters should “get through this town with a lot more ease,” Halfacre said.

Besides less congestion, the plan promises fewer crashes, reduced pollution, and shorter commutes, officials said.

For now, the $4.5 million network won’t include 14 intersections around the town that a study suggested be part of the network after town leaders decided the benefit would be minimal. Those can be added as needed, town administrator Britt Poole said.

The plan gives state transportation officials a chance to see if such technology is a quicker and cheaper way to alleviate traffic jams.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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