The Henrico Citizen

Henrico upgrading signals to help smooth traffic flow

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(Citizen file photo)

Upgrades designed to help ensure a smooth flow of traffic are coming to more than 120 traffic signals in Henrico County.

On May 9, the Henrico County Board of Supervisors awarded a $7.6-million contract to B&B Signal Corporation to enhance the county’s traffic management system. Federal funding will allow the county to upgrade controller cabinets and add backup batteries at traffic signals throughout Henrico.

Work is scheduled to begin in June and is estimated to take a year and a half at most, Henrico Public Works Director Terrell Hughes said. Of the 149 traffic signals that Henrico County maintains, 123 will be upgraded as part of this project.

The other 26 signals are not being updated because most already have the new systems, Hughes said. (An instance of a car driving into a cabinet or a road widening project would have already led to upgrades at those intersections, he said.)

“It gives us greater flexibility using our central signal system to continually keep traffic signal timings up to date,” Hughes said. “We will be able to respond to changing traffic patterns faster.”

Controller cabinets store the equipment used to operate traffic signals. Drivers won’t notice most of the updates since they are primarily internal system upgrades, Hughes said.

The new controller cabinets will have more capabilities, like the the ability to communicate information such as emergency vehicle preemption between the signal and the control center. When emergency vehicles drive through intersections, the signal turns green for them, and the control center will be alerted, Hughes said.

Traffic signals in Henrico at each of these locations in Henrico County will be upgraded as part of a recent contract awarded by the Henrico Board of Supervisors. (Courtesy Henrico Public Works)

Having battery backup capabilities will ensure traffic lights stay operational during inclement weather, Hughes said. One capability of the new systems that drivers may notice is more instances of flashing yellow arrows for left-hand turns, indicating that they may proceed using caution.

None of the 155 signals in Henrico that involve state roads are included in the project, Hughes said. State roads, which have route numbers, are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

This project is the second phase of upgrades for the system and is part of a modernization plan for Henrico County’s traffic management system.

“Phase One was like the backbone of the more advanced traffic management system,” Hughes said. “The whole system got upgraded.”

That phase, which was completed in 2012, involved a more advanced signal system and provided upgrades to some controller cabinets, Hughes said. Phase Two involves continuing the upgrades.

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