"Lighting" the Path Home

By: Tyler Helms
By: Tyler Helms

We have all been there, trying to get home from work, or be on time for an appointment only to be stopped by those tri colored mechanisms that are supposed to keep out drive efficient.

This led us to ask, is the modern day traffic light wreaking havoc on the driver? We decided to take a closer look at that question, paying specific attention to the city of Meridian. How is this city measuring up?

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I would probably say a 7, were in, so far as signals, real good shape right now. The technology has come a long way and we could advance in a lot places, but I would say we are at a seven," said Greer Goldman with Meridian Public Works.

Well we wanted to see for ourselves, so we went to 8th street a major thoroughfare with lots of lights. When Newscenter 11 traveled from Meridian Community College to 23rd Avenue we were stopped on average a total of five times. So if you are driving an average speed is this normal or a problem are driving an average speed is this normal or a problem.

"When we get into a city situation, it is critical that your signals, when you are as close of spaces as Meridian, that they are timed appropriately to get continuous flow of traffic on the main line," says Bob Mabry.

Mabry, who is the Chief Traffic Engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation says the timing of lights is crucial to efficient traffic flow.

"A lot of times when the side streets are not properly sequenced in, it can disrupt the main line," said Mabry.

We also visited the Highway 39/45 Interchange, a headache for many drivers. We found that when driving towards Marion you have a green light for an average of 40 seconds but at that same intersection heading towards Meridian the lights was as short as 13 seconds.

A problem Greer Goldman says might be the driver’s fault.

"People don't realize that if you don't pull up to the white stop bar, it may not detect your presence at the intersection. So you may have to wait a while before you get through the intersection," says Goldman.

But MDOT's Mabry says the problem could be with the light. "Occasionally those loops I was telling you about in the pavement that detect the vehicle, sometime the pavement shifts or cracks and breaks the loop," said Mabry.

Now our test was done on just two roads in one city. But no matter where you live, you have to wonder if problems with lights are just you being impatient or n actual problem. In most cases it’s probably just us being in a hurry, but there are some cases when the light is at fault. Those problems can have consequences both on the road and in your wallet.

That part of the story is coming up Thursday.


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