Baltimore To Reduce Wait Times At Traffic Signals With $4.5 Million Study

Traffic lights crown the intersection outside of the Monumental Life Building. Photo by Lee Burton via Flickr.

What’s happening?

The Baltimore Department of Transportation is planning a $4.5 million traffic signal retiming study in an effort to cut down on the city’s notoriously long waits for traffic lights, Mark Reutter reports for Baltimore Brew. The Board of Estimates was scheduled to vote on the study on Wednesday, but it was delayed due to a meeting boycott by Comptroller Bill Henry and Council President Nick Mosby.

What would the study entail?

The transportation department plans to hire traffic engineers Mead & Hunt to examine options for retiming the traffic signals to avoid excessive delays. The agency has already proposed some solutions, such as slowing down signaling in some downtown intersections that have become more residential and speeding up traffic lights on main thoroughfares like Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Pulaski Highway and Edmondson Avenue. Other ideas include reinstituting peak hour parking restrictions on major roads and updating the synchronized models used by the Traffic Management Control Center. 

Though city biking groups such as Bikemore support the study, its members are pushing the agency to prioritize the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in its solutions. Bikemore interim director Jed Weeks wrote a letter to the BOE urging the department to ensure all improvements remain in compliance with Complete Streets, a city ordinance adopted in 2018 to improve transportation options for bikers and pedestrians.

“If we continue on a path of longer cycles that encourage speeding and induce scofflaw driving just to speed traffic, it will not only violate our law, but cause harm to our most vulnerable residents,” Weeks wrote in the statement.

Anything else I should know? 

In 2021, WYPR reporter Aaron Henkin recorded the amount of time he waited at traffic signals while running errands and found that it accounted for almost a quarter of his drive time. 

You can read more here. 

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