New high-tech traffic signals that can be re-timed based on real-time conditions are being installed at 22 intersections across the city as part of a pilot project.
Mayor Tory was at Yonge Street and Yonge Boulevard on Friday morning to officially turn on the first of the new signals. The remaining signals will be installed over the next few weeks.
Unlike the city’s existing 2,400 traffic signals which are fixed to a set timing cycle for morning and afternoon rush hours and off-peak times, the new signals will be able to respond to real-time traffic data. They can also communicate and automatically synchronize with other smart signals in their vicinity.
“We all know the experience of sitting at a light that is red noticing that the traffic that is going across the other way is non-existent and saying ‘Why is this light red? Why can’t it be green?’ Well this technology is going to finally allow us to have an answer to that,” Mayor Tory told reporters on Friday morning. “We won’t be sitting at a red light when there is no traffic going the other way because that signal will stay green.”
The city is testing two different technologies as part of its pilot project.
Smart signals manufactured under the name InSync will be installed at 10 intersections on Yonge Street between Yonge Boulevard and Castlefield Avenue while smart signals manufactured under the name SCATS will be used at 12 intersections on Sheppard Avenue between Neilson Road and Meadowvale Road.
According to a news release, the technology on Yonge Street will make decisions based on video-analysis that measures queue lengths on the approach to the intersection and then relays that data to the signal. The technology on Sheppard Avenue, meanwhile, will use radar detection to measure traffic flow on both sides of the intersection.
Tory said that by testing out both technologies, each produced by a different manufacturer, the city will be able to evaluate which one has a greater impact on reducing gridlock.
“It is a different way or procurement. Before you just would just put out a request for proposals and often times we would just take the bid that has the lowest price,” he said. “In this case, and it is part of the new way that I think we will be doing procurement with technology, we are taking two (forms of technology), putting them up against each other and seeing how they work. The answer could be that we end up buying both, one or neither.”
The smart traffic signals are part of Tory’s six-point plan to reduce congestion, which was unveiled in September.
Speaking with CP24 following the mayor’s news conference, Public Works Chair Jaye Robinson said that the high-tech signals are something that a lot of officials at city hall have been “anxious” to see for years.
“It has taken a lot time because the technology keeps changing and advancing and it is not inexpensive. It is very, very costly to do this,. Having said that we are prioritizing congestion and gridlock in this city and we are making sure that we are going to be able to roll these out,” she said.