Traffic should flow smoother in the near future in Port Orange and other parts of Volusia County.
A $1.6 million dollar project, which uses Adaptive Signal Control Technologies, is being installed along Dunlawton Avenue that will allow real-time adjustments in traffic signals in response to changing traffic volumes, something conventional pre-programmed daily signal timing can’t do.
Mariam Ali, Community Outreach Specialist for FDOT, emailed that “Adaptive Signal Control Technology emerged in the 1980s, but in recent years it is being more widely utilized and can be found throughout the U.S.,” Mariam Ali, a Florida Department of Transportation community outreach specialist stated in an email. “ASTC systems are being installed in high capacity corridors with potential for traffic fluctuations or unpredicted traffic volumes. In some cases, this could be due to various events held throughout the year.”
In Volusia County, there are four ASCT projects underway or soon to be underway, Ms. Ali said. The locations are Dunlawton Avenue in Port Orange, U.S. 17/92 from Minnesota Avenue in Orange City to the Seminole County line, Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach and State Road 44 in New Smyrna Beach.
ASCT systems in Volusia County already are installed on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach, and Woodland Boulevard in DeLand.
Strategically placed sensors along the corridor will collect data on the number of vehicles passing each point. The system then analyzes the data and can change the timing cycles of the signals to improve traffic flow. ASCT helps improve the traveler experience, increases the efficiency of traffic maintenance systems, and provides an additional safety measure on the roads and highways.
One example is that in a rainstorm when traffic slows and becomes heavier than normal, the senors detect the traffic and the information is relayed to the upcoming intersections, where the timing of the signal will be adjusted to accommodate more traffic in the particular direction that was detected.
These steps help to ensure a steady flow of traffic from unpredictable traffic demands. Since the ASCT technology works to make the most efficient use of time, it is not just for through traffic. It adjusts signal timing for turn lanes as well.
The Port Orange project is deploying the adaptive signal control technology at 14 intersections along 5.6 miles. This includes signal equipment upgrades, cabinet replacements, new camera detection system, new conduit systems, and Bluetooth devices for estimating travel time along the corridor. The project will require single-lane closures mostly during overnight hours and should have minimal impact to the traveling public, according to FDOT.
An added benefit of this system is that it offers less of an impact to signal operations and detection than regular signal timing during severe weather. Also, it can help reduce rear-end collisions.
The project started with the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, according to Christine Martindale, Port Orange public information specialist. It was submitted by Volusia County since it maintains the traffic signals along Dunlawton/Taylor Road.
“We are in agreement with FDOT that the Traffic Adaptive Signal Control System along the Dunlawton Avenue corridor will improve the traffic signal timing,” Ms. Martindale said.
Mayor Don Burnette added the system will stretch from A1A past Williamson Boulevard to Taylor Road so “it’s basically going to make every single traffic light talk to each other. It’s a 'smart' system by making these lights talk better together, you have better synchronization and traffic flow. Instead of just setting the different timings for different times of the day and letting it go, it’s actually going to be reactive to the different conditions.
“It’s as modern and high tech as it gets. It’s something that we’ve been working on trying to get in conjunction with the Florida DOT. We’ve been working on it for years. We got our initial approval (in 2017-2018) and it was funded for this year,” Mayor Burnette said. “Now we’re finally in the implementation phase. I couldn’t be more excited.”