Bryan Study Signals Changes for Traffic Lights

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If you've driven through Bryan and thought the traffic signals haven't been kind to you, take heart. A study by the city is underway to try to alleviate traffic woes and replace aging equipment.

Despite being just weeks old, the study of Bryan's traffic signals has already yielded significant finds.

"We have some signals that were originally installed back in the 50s," said Bryan Transportation Planner John Dean. "There is some equipment that is extraordinarily old. That, to me, highlights needs, that we need to be upgrading."

And over the course of the next few months, the city will be finding any and all needs for improvement in the city. That includes the installation of LED lights at numerous intersections. The first priority, according to Dean, will be northbound traffic on Texas Avenue, with southbound to get the cheaper, longer lasting, energy efficient bulbs. Then, there's Video Identification Vehicle Detection Systems, or VIVDS.

"It knows that a vehicle is there, changes the signal, and you get to go," said Dean. "You don't have to cut into the pavement. They're very reliable. They're more expensive, of course. However, they've got a lot better longevity and what have you."

Expenses will likely end up totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, though with something like replacing old incandescent bulbs citywide has proven to save six-digits-worth in some cities.

The extent of what needs to be done in total still hasn't been fully determined, but it will be a phased project over the course of a number of years.

"It's going to allow the city, on our side, to be able to program it, plan for it, and be able to budget for it and do it on an annual basis so we know exactly what we need to do to get it," Dean said.

One focus of the study is potential improvements for first responders in the city as they head through intersections.

"The key to that is safety," said Peter Scheets, an assistant chief with Bryan PD. "It's a benefit to the public and our officers. One of the highest risk moments is when an officer is running code with lights and sirens, and has to go through an intersection."

The solution may be Opticom, a pricey purchase if completed by the city, but one Bryan officials are high on.

"Emergency response vehicles are able to transmit a signal to that intersection, which will turn the light green for them," Dean explained. "It'll stop traffic so that you have less conflicts. You don't have to worry about a firetruck running through a red light because the light will have been green for them. So it stops traffic that way."

"It's an expensive proposition, from my understanding," Scheets said. "It certainly is welcome, and we're very supportive of the city's initiative."

Cities the size of Bryan and bigger are more and more turning to Opticom.

Some planned changes will cost the city a pretty few million pennies, though after its all said and done, what it won't cost drivers is time.