Many drivers in Minneapolis are all-too familiar with the long waits at red lights along Hiawatha Avenue, but the Department of Public Works hopes to change that by installing new technology at seven intersections.
The three-phase project is expected to be completed by December. It comes with a $1.1 million price tag, but officials say it should shave minutes off commute times for the thousands of drivers who use the road each day.
The light-rail line running alongside the avenue often disrupts the traffic signals, triggering long delays for those who get caught at the stop lights. Now, engineers say a signal control system should prevent those extended waits.
Currently, the traffic signal cycle starts over every time a train passes, which means that a motorist nearing the intersection will have to wait through the whole cycle again. Under the new system, the vehicles that have waited the longest will be the first to get a green light to go forward because the system takes wait times into account whenever a timing disruption occurs.
The new technology, which was not available when the light-rail service began in 2004 and is customized to the Hiawatha corridor, will use traffic sensors placed within the pavement and side streets. Officials say those sensors should last for decades.
Work to install the sensors will begin on Oct. 10, and some lane restrictions will be put in place while crews are at work. Full street closures will come during the weekend of Oct. 13-14 as crews replace the sensors on northbound Hiawatha Avenue, and again on the weekend of Oct. 20-21 for the southbound lanes.