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By: Jeff Stephenson, P.E., PTOE
A project to implement new traffic signal technology for Cobbs Ford Road in Prattville is nearing completion. The project includes new traffic signal controllers and additional vehicle detectors for the nine signalized intersections along Cobbs Ford Road from Silver Hills Drive to I-65. These signals are also being connected to a database and interconnected with each other with a combination of fiber optic cable and wireless radios. This project is being completed as a partnership between the City of Prattville, ALDOT, and the University of Alabama under the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).
The project initially started with plans to implement adaptive signal control technology on Cobbs Ford Road. As the project progressed, we kept tabs on an effort in Tuscaloosa led by the University of Alabama to test an emerging technology known as Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPM). With concurrence from the City of Prattville and ALDOT, we decided to change the direction of the Cobbs Ford Road project to work with the University to implement the ATSPM technology.
The ATSPM technology being implemented on Cobbs Ford Road is an open source web-based platform that processes information provided by traffic signal controllers and vehicle detectors placed strategically along the corridor. ATSPM outputs consist of several charts and reports that provide actual performance information which can be used to assist with retiming traffic signals and identifying unexpected traffic signal behavior usually caused by equipment issues.
FHWA states the benefits of ATSPMs as increased safety, targeted maintenance, and improved operations. A shift to proactive operations and maintenance practices can improve safety by reducing the traffic congestion that results from poor and outdated signal timing. ATSPMs provide the actionable information needed to deliver high-quality service to customers, with significant cost savings to agencies. Active monitoring of signalized intersection performance lets agencies address problems before they become complaints.
ATSPMs can also be used to support the validation of other technologies and operational strategies, such as adaptive signal control and emerging connected vehicle applications.