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New traffic signal timing implemented on Valley Creek Road

Washington County and the City of Woodbury have partnered to install a new coordinated traffic signal control system along Valley Creek Road (County Highway 16) in western Woodbury that is expected to reduce travel times along this arterial roadway.

The system is operational now and will coordinate the operation of signals at eight consecutive intersections from Tower Drive to Weir Drive which will also include the signal at Bielenberg Drive and Curell Blvd. during the busiest times of the day.

Over the past few months, crews have been developing timing programs for various traffic conditions including morning, evenings, weekends, and off-peak times. Alterations were also made to the signal system at Weir Drive to prepare for the new timing plans.

Computerized traffic engineering programs were used to model the flow of traffic along this segment of Valley Creek Road and to develop adjusted signal timing for the system.

With a coordinated system, the time when the green lights will come on at each signal is set to allow for efficient traffic flow up and down the corridor. Drivers should notice a smoother flow and they will stop less frequently, or for a shorter time, as they travel Valley Creek Road.

The system will also be set up to automatically respond to changes in traffic demands and to identify and report equipment malfunctions so that county maintenance staff can respond in a timely fashion.

Previously, each signal was dependent on its own traffic sensors to change signal lights. The new system still uses the sensors, but will seek to minimize delay for the entire corridor by moving groups of traffic, rather than the previous operation which sought to minimize the delay at each individual intersection.

Driving either excessively fast or slow will not help drivers get through the lights more quickly.

Initially, the timing patterns will change on a predetermined schedule throughout the day.

Beginning this spring, the roadway sensors will determine which of the timing patterns to implement based on actual measured traffic conditions and to prioritize the traffic flow for the dominant traffic patterns at that time.

The new signal timing also includes changes to current signal sequences. At some times of day, vehicles turning left from Valley Creek Road may now get a green arrow after the green ball light is shown for the adjacent through traffic, rather than before. This change will allow for more efficient travel throughout the corridor.

Some drivers waiting on the side streets to enter Valley Creek Road or waiting to make a left turn from Valley Creek Road may notice longer wait times than before. However, most drivers will experience an overall reduction in travel time due to the reduced amount of delay when traveling along Valley Creek Road.

Currently, it takes the average vehicle approximately four to five minutes to travel the 1.5 mile segment during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Washington County traffic engineers expect the new system to reduce this travel time by 15 to 20 percent.