Missoula traffic signal revamp still working after two years


City traffic signal revamp still working after two years

MISSOULA, Mont. - It's been almost two years since the City of Missoula spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to retime the traffic lights. So, did it work? And what does it take to keep up with traffic?

"The city actually has staff to maintain and constantly look at adjustments to our signalized system," said City Engineer Kevin Slovarp.

In March 2012, an almost-$400,000 project retimed lights around the city. The new, synched system made the morning commute 9 seconds shorter, and the evening commute 6 seconds shorter.

Overall, Slovarp says the project worked well and has helped with traffic congestion throughout Missoula.

"There was time savings realized; obviously with that there's reduced congestion and reduced delays," he said.

NBC Montana asked some Missoula residents what they thought. While most agreed they've seen a difference they still pointed out some problem intersections.

"It seems like Higgins is OK," said one resident. "I know Brooks is really bad, it seems like I catch every red light."

"I live over on Mount and those lights at Mount and Orange and Mount and Russell, I've sat there for what feels like forever," said another resident.

As for plans to make changes in those areas, Slovarp says the city is constantly looking at places that may be expanding -- like the Brooks Street Corridor, home to the new South Crossing retail area.

"The Brooks and Dore intersection, we're getting a new traffic signal there. Probably it will be operational around the first of May," said Slovarp. "But we'll make sure that signal fits in with the timing of the two signals on basically either side of it on Brooks Street."

There are a total of 67 traffic signals in Missoula. Typically an evaluation is done about every 3 years -- that's when the city collects data during different times of the day at different intersections.

The city's also looking at installing an adaptive signal control system, where the lights are linked to a computer system and change based on traffic and road conditions. Slovarp said that project is still several years out.

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