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Troubleshooting Traffic

By: Stacia Naquin Email
By: Stacia Naquin Email

You just can't avoid traffic.

And there's always that one light that gives you this.

So 11 News did some investigating.

We decided to take a closer look at Platte. We drove it a number of times, east from Nevada to Murray, and at different times of the day, including 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

We found you can often make it through a series of intersections. But half the time, you'll get stopped at four lights in a row: North Circle, a shopping center, Chelton and Murray.

It can be more than a little frustrating.

The folks at Colorado Springs Traffic Management Center hear complaints like this a lot. These folks are in charge of all the traffic lights in the city and their timing.

They told us they look at capacity problems, safety problems, congestion, and whether or not there’s excessive speeding. These are all things they must factor in for all 563 signalized intersections in the city.

We asked how Springs Traffic engineers prioritize the roads in Colorado Springs?

“Depends on the locations,” said Robert Helt, Principal Traffic Engineer. “Academy Boulevard has a lot more traffic than Lehman. So Lehman would be considered the side street.”

I-25 is the busiest road in town, followed by Powers, then Academy, Platte and so on. So any streets that cross these main roads could give you red lights. And if you make any turns, you're likely to get the same thing.

“Every time you turn, you're entering a different signal progression pattern,” said Kathleen Krager, Transportation Manager.

Signal progression is the operation that helps us progress through each light. But there can be quite a bit of stop and go, stop and go. And that's going to cost you.

“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of inertia to move a car from a stopping point to a rolling back to 30, 35 mph,” said Jim Thomas, manager of AutoTech Plaza on Fillmore.

If you’re stopped both to and from work, it adds up.

In fact, According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s latest Mobility Report, the average driver in Colorado Springs could experience 31 hours of delay each year, partly because of I-25 running right through town. That number ties us in delays with cities like New Orleans, St. Louis and Honolulu.

“When you're stopping needlessly at a signal, that is wasting gasoline, so we want to make it efficient for people,” said Krager.

And that's what the city is working towards. Our Transportation Department is about to put a federal grant to work that will improve the efficiency of nearly half the traffic signals in Colorado Springs. It's a change that will roll out over the next three years. They expect it to be noticeable to the public. They also expect it to save each of money. But in the meantime, you can help.

“It's very important to get the calls that say 'something looked different this morning,'” said Helt. “It's when you get the complaints...'I've driven this way every day for the last 15 years and it's never changed.' That means we're probably doing OK.”

To check out the Texas Transportation Institute’s Mobility Report, click here.

For reporting signal malfunctions or to discuss a technical question about the signal's operation for Colorado Springs, call 719-385-6720. Or check out the city's frequently asked questions here.


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