The city of Houston has begun work on a nearly $3 million package that will in part benefit Oak Forest as part of a city-wide initiative.
At some point over the next year and a half, traffic signals near 2215 W. 43rd Street and the intersection of 43rd Street and Oak Forest Drive will be home to some upgraded traffic technology as part of a citywide contract for an Intelligent Transportation System that will be deployed by TransCore across 489 intersections throughout the city.
“They want to be able to better track the traffic better. This will play into the city’s new contract to help with signal timing and help make the traffic flow,” said Alanna Reed, Public Information Officer for the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. “We want to be able to better control the city’s mobility, so this is just a piece of it that will help us with minimizing congestion and making sure you aren’t sitting at a light and having traffic building up when there’s nobody crossing the intersection.”
Over the next three years, TransCore will install 91 new Dynamic Message Signs, 113 roadside cameras, 144 solar-powered, mid-block radar detection sites and 489 traffic signal detection sites. The roughly $2.9 million package that includes the local intersections began earlier this year, and is estimated to be completed in December of 2018, though it remains unclear exactly when particular local signals will be upgraded with the new technology due to construction schedules.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep people moving and get them where they need to go in a safe way and trying to get up to date on the technology we need to improve the mobility in the city,” Reed said.
TransCore’s system will continuously monitor some of Houston’s busiest streets, such as Oak Forest and 43rd. Through real-time data collection and monitoring from roadside equipment, traffic engineers will be able to stay aware of current traffic conditions, and possibly predict locations and times that have a greater likelihood of incidents. Additionally, it will deploy emergency personnel when needed, as well as alert motorists of changing roadway conditions by automatically posting updates on the message signs.
“As major metropolitan cities continue to grow, the use of intelligent transportation systems has enabled local governments to increase mobility, lower environmental impacts of congestion, and make our roadways safer,” Clint Holley, Houston-based Vice President and Southwest Managing Director for TransCore, said in a release. “We are excited to work with the City of Houston to deploy a state-of-the-art, city-wide ITS system that brings these important innovations to all of us.”
“When you look at the future [of this technology], look at the future of emergency vehicles and self-driving cars, it would be great if they could communicate with the signal. That’s really the future,” Reed added.
With Houston’s population set to grow 50 percent in the next 20 years (meaning more vehicles on the road), Reed believes the smart technology will enable the city to prepare for the estimated two million extra vehicles set to enter the roadways and provide residents easier mobility throughout the region, including the local neighborhoods.
“We want you to just be able to cruise through,” she said, laughing. There’s nothing that says we can’t make that happen.”