Intelligent transportation systems are coming to a local intersection near you
Lansing, MI. – Ever wonder how traffic lights seem to know when you’re coming? That’s because many Michigan counties have been deploying something called an intelligent transportation system (ITS) that allows street lights to change based on traffic. Thanks to innovations in construction and cost, the intelligent transportation system is coming soon to a community near you.
One of the features of a modern ITS is powered by a small wireless transmitter that can sense when a car, bicycle or even a person wearing a steel-toed boot approaches an intersection. These transmitters pack a sensor inside that detects even the smallest amount of metal. They look something like a hockey puck, positioned below the road surface at intersections.
In the past, installing these sensors required cutting large swaths of pavement and many hours of work. New installation methods are reducing time, labor costs and impact on the road surface.
“You just have to drill a hole in the pavement and epoxy the sensor in place,” said Dan Armentrout, Clinton County Road Commission’s (CCRC) director of engineering, Crossroads, the quarterly publication of the County Road Association of Michigan.
“The receiver for the sensor is mounted to the traffic signal controller box, which can then tell the traffic light to change based on traffic flow. The sensors themselves are maintenance free, install in minutes and can be deployed in a matter of hours,” Armentrout said.
Thanks to the changes in how ITS’s are implemented, more rural counties like the CCRC are making the upgrade, which will help alleviate traffic conditions and improve traffic flow in areas with intermittent congestion due to weekly or seasonal events.
“These sensors are great for things like school football games,” said Armentrout. “You can manage the game traffic without preplanning for it. It’s another effective way Clinton County is using innovation to better utilize limited funds and improve how we serve the public.”
The 83 members of the County Road Association represent the unified, credible and effective voice for a safe and efficient local road system in Michigan, collectively managing more than 73 percent of all roads in the state– more than 90,000 miles and 5,700 bridges— the fourth-largest county road system in the nation.