Airport Road from Glades Boulevard to Longboat Drive
Drivers may have noticed some changes in the way the traffic signals function along a segment of Airport Road. In July of 2017, Collier County Traffic Operations activated an adaptive traffic control system along Airport Road from Glades Boulevard to Longboat Drive. An adaptive traffic control system, or ATCS, is designed to intelligently respond to traffic patterns and service traffic most efficiently based on demand.
The deployed ATCS – which is an adaptive system called InSync from Rhythm Engineering – uses video cameras to monitor traffic volume and incorporates artificial intelligence that uses real-time data to respond to traffic conditions.
Interested in the technical details? Click here for a diagram explaining the system.
What does this mean for drivers?
- Traffic coordination
We like green lights, too, and we want drivers on Airport Road to get as many as possible to make their commutes faster and safer. InSync helps keep groups of vehicles moving along Airport Road (Glades Boulevard to Longboat Drive) with as few stops as possible.
- Local optimization at each intersection
The InSync system monitors traffic at each intersection in real time, so that side streets are served based on where the actual demand is. The system is designed to give green lights to the lanes that need them the most for only the amount of time necessary and then quickly move on to where the system sees the next-highest demand. The signals will still go red and traffic can be delayed if the vehicles are outside the green window (the platoon) or when the pedestrian demand to cross Airport Road is high, or when emergency vehicles are requesting service (preemption).
What will drivers notice that is different?
- The lights don’t cycle like they used to!
The patterns of traffic signals that use InSync may be unpredictable. With global coordination, InSync will accommodate the movements that have the highest demand for only the amount of time needed. This means the lights may turn green in an unpredictable fashion (which is different from the time-based cycle we are all used to). At times the left turning vehicles may be serviced at the beginning of the green (advanced left) and at other times at the end of the green (lagging left) and at times, if the demand is very low, they may not get serviced at all.
- Sometimes the lights change quickly!
InSync is actively monitoring the intersection in real time. If it sees only a few vehicles in a particular lane, it will not leave the light green longer than necessary to accommodate those motorists and it could delay the start of green on the conflicting movements to help move the traffic platoons.
Drivers may be used to longer green times that allow “catching” a light or moving more slowly through an intersection. However, if InSync sees that it has accommodated all the vehicles waiting in a queue, it will quickly move on to where it sees demand. While this might mean you are not always able to catch that left turn onto Airport Road, the artificial intelligence in InSync will never skip accommodating any lanes or approaches that have vehicles present. Additionally, InSync will always respect the mandated minimum times for green and the appropriate yellow/red clearance periods when lights are changing.
What happens if any of the cameras are inoperative? InSync implements a timed traffic signal plan based on a month’s worth of collected data, so traffic is still served according to the most-likely patterns and demand, giving our crews time to investigate and fix any camera issues.
A significant safety benefit is that the intersections’ unpredictable operations prompt motorists to pay more attention, since InSync signals no longer operate in the familiar cycle-based fashion. Collier County Traffic Operations collects the data over time which will allow us to conduct before and after evaluations.
Since the installation in summer 2017, we are seeing a 15% to 24% improvement in travel times.
Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) systems provide great benefits for emergency responders by improving their response time and helping them save lives. Fire and EMS vehicles are equipped with an infrared emitter enabling emergency response teams to preempt the traffic signal and to extend the traffic signal timing to allow these vehicles to navigate congested intersections faster and safer.
When preempting coordinated traffic signals, it removes the preempted signal from the coordinated system, so that the signal can respond to the emergency vehicles preemption call and give the approaching emergency vehicle a green light. This process does significantly affect traffic flow progression. The county's smart traffic signal system automatically recognizes that the signal is out of step and starts the process of realigning the signal back into coordination. Depending on how far the traffic signal is out of step, this process can take up to five traffic signal cycles which is approximately 10 minutes.
For a brief video explaining the system click on the image below:
Confirmation Beacon (white light)
Confirmation beacon lights are intended to communicate to approaching emergency vehicle drivers the status of the traffic signal. These are different than the Blue Lights that are in the City of Naples (see description below). There are three stages of operation for the lights:
Stage 1, normal status is, when the light is dark. The confirmation beacon will be in this state the majority of the time and the system is considered to be in the listening mode.
Stage 2, a solid white light on, communicates to approaching emergency vehicles that the traffic signal preemption system has received their infrared signal and it is processing their call. The time to process the vehicle preemption call varies depending upon the phasing (i.e. turning and through movements) that the traffic signal is serving at the time when the preemption call is received.
Stage 3, a flashing white light, communicates to approaching emergency vehicle drivers that the traffic signal is currently processing an emergency vehicle preemption call on one of the other approaches to the intersection and, therefore, their call will not be processed until the other call has expired (the other emergency vehicle went through the intersection).
The blue lights that one sees mounted on the mast arms on US 41 throughout the City of Naples are an aid to law enforcement officials to determine if a motorist has run a red light. In Florida, as it may be elsewhere in the country, a law enforcement officer must physically observe that a motorist has run a red light in order to legally issue a citation to the offending motorist. The blue lights are connected to the red signal indications. If an officer observes the blue light at the approach to an intersection and a motorist enters the intersection from that approach, the law enforcement officer immediately knows that the motorist has run a red light due to the lit blue light.
In December 2009, after extensive testing, the Federal Highway Administration authorized the use of flashing yellow arrows nationwide. A study conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program determined that drivers had fewer crashes with flashing yellow left-turn arrows than with traditional yield-on-green signal configurations.
Steady yellow arrow: The left-turn signal is about to change to red; prepare to stop, or prepare to complete your left turn if you are within the intersection.
Flashing yellow arrow: Left turns permitted. Yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. (Oncoming traffic has a green light.)
Green arrow: Safe to turn left (oncoming traffic must stop).