Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
For the first time in five years, nearly every traffic light in the city of Richmond is getting a timing update. solar road light
Why it matters: Richmond's growth — and the pandemic — have changed the way we live and get around. Now, the tools that control how we do so safely are due for an upgrade.
What's happening: All but 80 of the city's 480 traffic lights are being retimed, funded by a $1.8 million federal grant.
Driving the news: The city tries to retime lights every few years, or as funding allows, city transportation engineer Michael Sawyer tells Axios. But residential growth in neighborhoods like Scott's Addition, Manchester and downtown has created a greater need for an update.
Plus: Plenty of Richmonders are still working from home, but when they do go into the office, they're going in much later than they were pre-pandemic, Sawyer says.
Yes, but: Getting cars around quickly isn't the chief goal when it comes to traffic lights in the city. It's pedestrian safety, Sawyer says.
Zoom in: Take Broad Street, for example, and a car heading east into the city from Henrico. A car traveling the speed limit will likely hit green lights for the Henrico portion of the commute.
Pedestrians will only wait about 60 seconds before they get sick of waiting and cross anyway, Sawyer says, so traffic engineers have to design light timing with that in mind.
What's next: The light retiming will take place over the next year, mostly done remotely from the city's Traffic Control Center in City Hall, where 95% of the lights are managed.
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