Chandra Ravada is helping the city in his role with the East Central Intergovernmental Association. He says the city has a common basic automation system in place now that controls traffic lights on the main corridors. “Right now most of the traffic signals, they just go on timers. They just go based on what they see in front of them, how much traffic is there,” Ravada says. He says the main roads usually get more green light time and that can cause traffic to back up on the side streets.
Ravada says if there is an accident, then the green time doesn’t change and people don’t know it until the get to the accident intersection and they get stuck. The new system will add in other information from cameras. “They’ll use the cameras and camera data and see what’s happening and the system will react automatically based on what’s happening on the ground,” Ravada says.
He says the new system will adjust lights to allow traffic to continue to flow. And it will send messages about the location of the backups to message boards. “This will also sync with all the truck technology where the truck drivers will know this is the route to get out of the city. And the same thing with school systems and transit systems,” according to Ravada. “And for a common person — we will get updates on our smart phone an all that saying ‘there is an accident here is the detour route.'”
Ravada says this type of technology already is being used on a smaller scale in some cities. “Most of the cities they will do it at the corridor level, they’ll take one corridor. But we are doing the whole metro. All 13 corridors will be built in one shot,” Ravada says. He says this system will help traffic and help police who have to respond and clear away accidents, and will be adaptable to driverless cars if they come into use. Ravada says it won’t take much human interaction.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent it will react on daily patterns. When there is a special event and it is not working right — yes staff can change it,” he says. The Federal Highway Administration awarded a 998-thousand dollar grant to the Iowa Department of Transportation for the Dubuque project. He says they will use other grants and funding to install the system that will cost around three million dollars.
Ravada says they will get proposals for installation in August and it will take two to two-and-a-half years to get the system up and running. The project know as Smart Traffic Routing with Efficient and Effective Traffic Signals or STREETS is a pilot in Dubuque that could be adapted to other cities in the future.