Two-and-a-half years ago, the City of Lubbock announced big plans to update and renovate the traffic light system throughout the city. The $4.6 million dollar project called for making our system more like the one in Amarillo.
Up there, if you hit a green light, chances are you'll hit green all the way through town if you go the speed limit. That was then, this is now. So, whatever happened to Lubbock's synchronized system?
If you talk to Lubbock drivers, they'll tell you getting around town means a whole lot of stop and go. But now, a new state-of-the-art $4.6 million dollar capital improvements traffic light system has Lubbock on the fast track to becoming a breeze when you're trying to get from here to there.
"The goal is to have that in place on all those major thoroughfares," says City Traffic Engineer Jere Hart. Hart says implementing the system will take time. "For example, it took us three months just to get the systems timing right on Slide," says Hart.
But once it's in, it'll be smooth sailing for much of your daily commute. A virtually non-stop drive from one end of town to the other, on the major thoroughfares. And it's already in place on Slide Road.
So, we decided to put the system to the test on Slide. We started at 82nd and headed north to 34th at 3:30 in the afternoon on a week day. If you stick to the speed limit, which is 40 on most of Slide, you should make it from point A to point B with no stops. And on this day, it worked. We didn't hit a single red light and made it from 82nd to 34th in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. But lingering skepticism forced us to try our luck again. We headed back down Slide, the other way, and hit all greens again.
After that, we moved over to Quaker where the system isn't active yet. Starting at 82nd and heading north to 34th, and we hit two red lights right away. One at 74th and another at Loop 289. Then, another at 50th. That trip took us 6 minutes 8 seconds, One minute 18 seconds more than our trips up and down Slide. So, for this experiment, the system did work.
But you should also know if traffic becomes too congested, the system likely won't work. That's because traffic flow won't keep up with the changing lights.
That being said, Hart points out the system's sophistication. A central data-base high-tech enough to consider high traffic times. So, it's also equipped with three timing plans, an a.m. peak, a p.m. peak and an off peak. For example, Slide will be on p.m. peak essentially all day on Saturday to accommodate high-volume traffic.
It's a top of the line system that already has Lubbock drivers seeing less red on both Slide Road and 50th Street. Next, it will be coming to University, then Indiana, then Quaker, then 4th, 19th, 34th, 82nd and Avenue Q. The system should be complete in three years.