Traffic signal technology is a regional effort

The greater Tucson region is one of the few metropolitan areas of its size to establish a coordinated traffic signal system that can be operated as a comprehensive network. The system is in place, and every jurisdiction in the region is working in partnership to provide seamless traffic signal operations across all boundaries. Pima Association of Governments Transportation Planning Director Paul Casertano says the region is in good shape with a connected traffic signal system, but he says, “Significant upgrades for traffic signal equipment and communications connections remain. Some traffic signal equipment is as new as 2020, while other equipment is over 30 years old.” PAG is the region’s metropolitan planning organization for transportation, air quality management, water quality and solid waste.

State-of-the-art equipment and regular updates are required to have the best possible traffic signal network and highest level of performance and functionality in the region. That includes communication infrastructure and equipment, signal controllers, detecting equipment, and hardware such as mast arms and signal heads, and software for central system coordination.

While there is a good foundation in the region for coordinated traffic signal operations, Casertano says the network needs investment: “The next steps include continuing to make the case for investment in the regional traffic signal network to policymakers, elected officials and the public so funding can be committed for the needed improvements.”

The network has received national attention, held up in numerous case studies as a system that benefits from the support and pooled funding resources. Casertano adds, “Fortunately, PAG and its member jurisdiction traffic engineering practitioners see the benefits of a coordinated approach to planning for and managing the traffic signal network as one regional network.”