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LA's traffic lights now synced; aims to increase air quality, decrease traffic

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at 10:25AM
Downtown's Shortest One-Way Stretch Eric Richardson [Flickr]

As of Tuesday, all the traffic signals in Los Angeles are synced on one system.

As of today, all of L.A.'s 4,398 traffic signals are part of the same automated traffic system, which city officials say will help decrease commuter travel time and improve the city's air quality.

“By synchronizing our traffic signals, we will spend nearly a day less waiting and reduce pollution by nearly a metric ton of carbon every year,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement.

Getting all of Los Angeles' traffic lights on the Automated Traffic Surveillance & Control (ATSAC) system has been an ongoing effort since before the 1984 Olympics, according to the Mayor's office. In 2005, Villaraigosa promised to complete the effort and as of Tuesday -- a few months before the end of his term -- the project is completed.

According to the Mayor's office, one of the main goals of syncing the city's traffic signals is to help manage the traffic flow of different modes of transportation; including pedestrians, cyclists, public transit and cars.

This new cohesive system will also help maximize “green time” as well as allow officials to remotely monitor traffic conditions and change signal timing when necessary.

"I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) and the traffic engineers who are currently working to resolve the timing issue at Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard," said L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, in a statement. "I'm looking forward to the moment when things are resolved in the Palisades, and I'm excited for all Angelenos to experience the benefits of this project, whether they're traveling by car, bike, or on foot."

For Downtown, this could mean a change in traffic signal patterns surrounding Staples Center and L.A. Live when a major special event is taking place. City officials cited other highly-trafficked L.A. locations, such as Dodger Stadium and the Coliseum, as other venues where they may employ "unusual signal timing."

General manager of the LADOT, Jaime de la Vega, said according to his department's traffic studies, the citywide signal synchronization will increase average travel speed by 16 percent and reduce travel time by about 12 percent.

In addition to easing commuter headache, officials say this new traffic system can be used by law enforcement and emergency response vehicles -- facilitating their response to major incidents or accidents.

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