Our view: Smart traffic signals deserve green light | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Smart traffic signals deserve green light

When we looked at the city of Steamboat Springs' list of proposed capital improvement projects for 2018, one particular item rose to the top.

As the council begins to ponder next year's spending plan, we hope they'll quickly allocate funds for "smarter" traffic signals, which we think could have a big impact on easing some of the traffic woes motorists encounter during peak tourism times when driving through downtown Steamboat Springs, especially during the summer months.

The new smart signals, which are also referred to as adaptive signals, would be installed along U.S. Highway 40 from Walton Creek Road to 13th Street and would have the ability to react in real time to traffic conditions.

Currently, Steamboat relies on traffic signals that are run on set timers. Adaptive signals use a series of wires embedded in city streets that indicate how much traffic is actually moving through intersections and adjusts the signals accordingly. So if the sensors detect a large amount of traffic, signals will stay green longer to accommodate the increased number of vehicles traveling along the roadway.

In essence, the new signals are more synchronized and connected to real-time data so that motorists are not faced as often with a frustrating string of red lights during high traffic times.

With a cost of about $100,000 to the city, the project definitely promises a big return on a small investment. It's also encouraging to see that the lion's share of the project will be paid for by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which will be contributing 73 percent of the project cost.

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By embracing this new technology and setting aside the funding to make our local traffic lights "smarter," we think the council is responding to its citizenry, who's crying out for a fix to congested traffic conditions that seemed to hit a nerve with locals this summer.

With a tourism-based economy and a city dependent on sales tax revenue, it's important that Steamboat continue to welcome guests to our town, but it also behooves the city to find ways to mitigate the impacts of tourism on locals, and we think finding a way to alleviate traffic snarls is a great way to do that.

We encourage City Council to green light the smart traffic signal project and work toward making sure the new technology is in place before the start of the 2018 summer season.

At issue: The city of Steamboat Springs is considering allocating funds for new “smart” traffic signals during the 2018 budget process.

Our view: The new signals would be a cost-efficient way to mitigate congested traffic conditions during busy summer months.

Editorial Board
• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Jim Patterson, evening editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Beth Melton, community representative
• Bob Weiss, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

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