When Sarasota County Director of Public Works Jim Harriott received a complaint from an area resident about the timing of traffic lights along a section U.S. 41, he got in his car and drove up and down the road to experience the problem for himself.
Harriott’s field work validated the resident’s complaints.
"Stopping at Stickney Point Road and Gulf Gate Drive can be very frustrating," Harriott wrote in a March 22 email to Commissioner Nora Patterson. "It appears we still need to do an offset adjustment between the two signals. I drove it north and south bound several times and noticed the greens were coordinated about 50% of the trips."
Harriott's email was a response to an area resident who complained that traffic signals along the U.S. 41 corridor from the Stickney Point intersection were not coordinated, often resulting in motorists hitting multiple back-to-back red lights, and stopping large platoons of cars along U.S. 41 for one car to cross from a side street.
"I challenge anyone to get two or more traffic lights in a row," Walt Angel wrote in a March 20 email to the Sarasota County Commission, referring to the U.S. 41 corridor from Stickney Point Road to Nokomis.
After making his observations, Harriott said he reported the issue to Sarasota County traffic signal technicians, who are able to make adjustments to the timing of stoplights to better regulate traffic flow.
Harriott also recommended making adjustments to the phasing of traffic signals on U.S. 41 at the Roberts Road and Oaks intersections.
Harriott’s observations are part of an ongoing project to schedule the timing of area traffic signals in the run-up to implementing a joint Sarasota-Manatee County automated traffic signal system called ATMS.
The ATMS system will outfit 160 signalized intersections in Sarasota County with the new technology by installing 112 miles of fiber optic cable on regional roads as well as 89 closed-circuit TV cameras.
The system's intent is to minimize traffic congestion and improve roadway safety.
The installation of the ATMS system is a multi-phase project. Phases one and two (which include segments of U.S. 41 from Stickney Point to Nokomis) are expected to be complete May 25. The system will be operated out of the Reginal Traffic Management Center in Manatee County, but Sarasota County technicians will be able to make adjustments to area intersections remotely.
The timing plans for phases one and two are installed and are currently being adjusted.
"The U.S. 41 corridor is being adjusted by using a system where the engineers drive the corridor and collect data on the green band for traffic progression and adjust the signal timing offsets accordingly to improve the flow," Harriott said. "We also have several other timing studies or adjustments going on around the County."
Contact Nolan Peterson at [email protected]