"Smart" traffic lights battle congestion on Sioux Falls streets - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

"Smart" traffic lights battle congestion on Sioux Falls streets

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A smart camera controls the traffic flow at the intersection of Van Eps Avenue and 26th Street. A smart camera controls the traffic flow at the intersection of Van Eps Avenue and 26th Street.

Have you ever been stuck at a red light and it felt like it was just ignoring you? Well if your commute involves 26th Street in Sioux Falls, your stoplight wait could be getting shorter. A new computer system is changing the way the city fights traffic.

It's like something out of science fiction. Rather than taking over the world, Robots are taking over Sioux Falls streets. It's computers helping commuters. It's no secret, 26th Street can be quite the log jam.

Heath Zeigler: It's a busy road!
JI: Bumper-to-bumper?
HZ: Oh yeah, at times!

But the congestion could be getting some relief thanks to a few eyes in the sky.

"They can see how many cars are waiting and how long they have been waiting so they adjust the green time for each movement based on that." Said Reggie Chandra, the CEO of Rhythm Engineering.

These cameras are a part of the city's new adaptive traffic control system. Essentially, the traffic lights change based on the demand, not a preset pattern

"Well it's like having a traffic engineer at every intersection moving as much traffic through the corridor as possible." Said Mark Cotter, public works director for Sioux Falls.

The last time Sioux Falls put in cameras at an intersection was at 10th Street and Minnesota Avenue to catch people running red lights. The new system is different as there is no running recording and it is designed to keep traffic flowing not catch a few lawbreakers. in fact, the cameras are so effective they actually help curb people from breaking the law.

"There was no one there on the red, to run the red! If you give people ample green and you're moving people through, you are reducing driver frustration, therefore you see 30% reduction in vehicle crashes and people are not going to be as frustrated." Said Chandra.

The 26th Street corridor already has several traffic challenges with the interstate connection, a railroad crossing and two school zones. This new system will help traffic move seamlessly and hopefully result in a shorter commute for Sioux Falls travelers.

"I'm sure it's going to be a lot better than what it is now!" Said Zeigler.

If the system performs like it should other busy streets like Minnesota Avenue and 41st Street could also get cameras. But what happens if a fog rolls in and these cameras can't see the cars? The computer actually 'remembers' and goes back into it's memory to see what the traffic pattern was for that exact time. Say for example fog rolls in at 10pm on Thursday night, the computer will look back through the past Thursday nights at 10pm and develop a pattern based on those results. Once the fog lifts, it's back to counting cars.

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