Hire properly trained staff to deploy and maintain traffic signal systems.

Agencies share experiences managing and operating traffic signal systems.

United States

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Lesson Learned

A study on the nationwide best practices on deploying and operating traffic signal systems reveals the following experiences.
  • Recognize and budget for continuing education to ensure success. A recurring theme in the study was the tremendous need to keep employees current on the ever-changing technologies that influence the design, deployment, and operation of traffic signal systems. The interviewees stressed the need to have agency staff attend technical professional conferences, meetings, and seminars through which peers can be established and new information is readily available.
  • Consider your abilities as an agency to deploy and maintain a traffic signal system before deployment. It was also stressed that if an agency does not feel they have the technical expertise to design a traffic signal system or develop the specifications for the deployment of a new traffic signal system, agencies should take a step back and seek the training necessary to improve the agency skill set before moving forward.
  • Telecommunication expertise is critical to success. Technical expertise in the area of telecommunications is often overlooked by agencies. Many agencies stressed the need to hire technical experts that are knowledgeable in many areas of telecommunications including copper lines, fiber optic communications and potentially wireless communications to allow flexibility in traffic signal system designs. Without this expertise in house, agencies are often left to accept whatever telecommunications options are presented by competing contractors.
  • Recognize the close cooperation with maintenance staff that is required for a successful deployment. Agencies stressed the need to include maintenance staff in the decision making process as these staff members are often critical to the successful deployment of traffic signal systems. Recognize that a properly trained maintenance staff is crucial to a successful traffic signal system.

    Traditional cooper wire systems are much different than fiber optic communication systems. Recognize these differences and make sure maintenance staff is trained to repair whatever communication system is deployed. Agencies stressed, don’t be lured into the high-band width world of fiber optic communications without properly trained staff and repair equipment!
In summary, without the proper knowledge, agencies can find themselves in a quagmire of software, hardware, maintenance and communications problems that result in little improvement in operational conditions. Recognize the need for properly trained staff and continuing education for all staff to ensure the required knowledge base is in place before designing or deploying traffic signal systems.

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Successful Traffic Signal System Procurement Techniques

Author: Erin Bard Ehlinger/PB Farradyne

Published By: US Department of Transportation/FHWA

Source Date: 1/31/2002

EDL Number: 13611

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Erin Ehlinger, P.E.
ICx Transportation Group, Inc.

Aimee Flannery, Ph.D., P.E.
George Mason University

Lesson Analyst:

Firoz Kabir


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United States

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coordinated signals, signal coordination, centralized signal control, signal synchronization, traffic signals, advanced signal control, signal timing optimization, coordinated signal control, advanced signal controller, traffic signal retiming, retiming

Lesson ID: 2005-00135