Baton Rouge area residents are one step closer to a quicker commute, mayor says

Updated: Jul. 13, 2020 at 9:35 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We are all just a little bit closer to a quicker morning commute. That is according to East Baton Rouge Mayor-President, Sharon Weston Broom.

In an update on the progress of the MOVEBR light synchronization project, the mayor said work has already begun connecting the parish’s 470 traffic signals. “Many people thought it would never happen,” the mayor said, “but we are finally getting in sync.”

The light project will help with trouble areas during rush hour commutes.
The light project will help with trouble areas during rush hour commutes.(WAFB)

The future of EBR traffic rides on little, blue ethernet cables just like the one on your home computer system. 176 miles of the fiber optic wires will connect all of the parish traffic lights to the Area Traffic Management Center.

“That is probably the main component for us to be able to manage our system with traffic throughout the parish,” said Transportation Director, Fred Raiford.

From their desks in front of a dozen or so large TV screens, traffic managers will be able to monitor traffic flow, wait times at red lights, accidents, and signal malfunctions. They will be able to correct synchronization problems and change light timing on the fly. Currently, when lights malfunction, or need adjustment, the Department of Public Works needs to physically send workers to the intersection to troubleshoot and fix timing problems.

Part of the project also includes power stations to provide electricity to 200 traffic signals in high traffic areas. The mayor said this will help with gridlock caused by power outages during frequent bad weather events.

The third component deals with technology that allows first responders to control lights when in route to emergencies when traffic stacked at red lights block their path and cause longer response times.

Raiford says lighter than normal traffic during the lockdown allowed his crews to get a jump on some of the installations. “We have, right now, between 160-170 signals on-board with fiber connections,” he said.

He said we should see improved drive times by mid-2021. The work needed for the remaining 300 or so lights should be finished by 2022.

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