Lane Ranger: Concerns raised bout misfiring traffic signals

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.

Traffic lights get a lot of attention from readers, who often point out concerns about timing, flashing yellow arrows on left turns and other issues.

That was the case with Becca Miller and a particular intersection that also draws a lot of attention — Northwest 34th Street/U.S. 441/State Road 121 near the Walmart Supercenter.

“Traffic from 7:15 to 8 a.m. is usually heavy coming from 121 and 441. The light changes instantly as someone is coming from Walmart, regardless of the direction they are turning. Cars have been backed up to almost 441 for one car turning right, and stays red for an unnecessary amount of time,” Miller wrote. “Also, why does Gainesville have so many insta-lights? (changes as soon as a car pulls up over the sensor). … Some of the lights you can knit a sweater and others you have to slam on brakes because a car rolled just up at the intersection.”

Matt Weisman, Gainesville’s traffic operations manager, said one of the detectors at the intersection failed. Timing adjustments will be made until the detector can be repaired.

As to the “insta-lights,” Weisman said all 231 traffic signals have detectors in each lane of approach. Some are in the asphalt, some are video and some are puck-like magnetometers.

“When an intersection is running in a non-coordinated mode, if a detector picks up a vehicle on the side street, the computer at the intersection will look at the detectors on the main street, and if it doesn’t have any additional main street detector calls, will go ahead and service the side street,” Weisman said in an email.

“When a side street detector breaks, like in this case, it is constantly putting a call into the controller. We generally then allocate more time to the main street so that it is not constantly bopping back and forth. Because we maintain thousands of detectors, as we fix them more will continue to break. We generally never have more than 15 bad detectors at a time which is an extremely low percentage, but still an obvious nuisance when it happens.”

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