System taking a bite out of Lexington traffic congestion

Lexington’s notoriously congested traffic isn’t going away anytime soon – but it should at least be getting better.

Last week, town officials said a new high-tech traffic-signal system has been expanded to seven more intersections as part of an incremental town-wide rollout that should be complete and fully operational by the end of 2017 or early 2018.


A camera on a mast arm on Main Street and Lake Drive in downtown Lexington is part of a new signalization system aimed at battling traffic congestion. (Photos by Hal Millard)

The town’s $5.1 million “adaptive signalization system” project is slowly replacing the old, analog, fixed-timing system with computers, magnetic sensors, and video cameras that constantly monitor traffic and adjust the timing of lights to maximize traffic flow around the clock.

With last week’s additions, the system is now live at 12 intersections along the busy downtown Main Street, Columbia Avenue, and Sunset Boulevard corridors.

The Sunset Boulevard intersections added last week include: Corley Mill Road, Cromer Road, the I-20 Westbound Ramp, the I-20 Eastbound Ramp, Leaphart Road, Lott Court, and Northside Boulevard.

If all goes as planned, phase one, which encompasses signals at 19 town intersections, should be completed by the end of this year, said town spokeswoman Jennifer Dowden.

Phase two of the project, encompassing the town’s remaining 16 signalized intersections, should begin once rights-of-way acquisitions and other issues have been settled – most likely next summer, she said.

Though far from complete, the system already is working to alleviate congestion with positive results, Dowden said.

Since last year when the town began installation downtown, “we have seen an 18 percent improvement in peak-hour traffic flow along Main Street,” Dowden said.

20161118_154115And, immediately after the new intersections went live last week, “we experienced an 8 percent improvement along the 378/I-20 corridor, which is anticipated to get better as we tweak the system,” she added.

When the entire system is operational, Town Administrator Britt Poole has said traffic congestion across town is expected to be reduced by around 30 percent.

The towns of Aiken, Clemson, and Mt. Pleasant utilize a similar system at various intersections. Lexington, however, will be the first town in the state where all its signalized intersections utilize such a system.

Note: Though the system utilizes live cameras, they are not used in any way for traffic enforcement, which is unlawful in South Carolina, according to Poole.

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