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Kerri Lewis 816-622-6328

July 23, 2009 12:00 AM
Motorists on Route 291 Discover a New Meaning for ‘Light Speed’


LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - Motorists driving on Route 291 through Lee's Summit were growing weary at. Stopping. For. Every. Traffic. Light.

But now that's changing.  Thanks to a new signal timing system implemented by MoDOT, drivers along Route 291 between Route 50 and Interstate 470 will see fewer stops, less gas consumption and better travel times. The InSync adaptive traffic signal system, developed by Rhythm Engineering, coordinated 12 traffic signals through the 2½-mile corridor to improve traffic flow. It sliced 30 percent off travel time from one end of town to the other. The reduction in travel times reduces congestion through the corridor, saving drivers time and money.

The system was evaluated by Midwest Research Institute (MRI) of Kansas City. Results based on field data collected prior to and after implementation showed remarkable improvement with many benefits.

In addition to the reduction in driver delay, this system reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. In an effort to go green, MoDOT is continuously looking for ways to reduce consumption of energy and waste at state and district levels. By implementing this system, MoDOT helps motorists driving this corridor reduce fuel consumption an average of 25 percent. The average emissions, which include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX), derived from estimated fuel consumption by the PC-Travel software, decreased from 30 to 60 percent. Stops along the corridor showed a significant decrease as well.  During some time periods, stops decreased by as much as 95 percent.

 "Route 291 is one of our busiest and most traveled areas where the number of traffic signals and traffic stops causes a significant amount of congestion," said Tom Evans, MoDOT Traffic Engineer. "We knew this system would help improve traffic flow along this roadway, but once the study by MRI was complete, the decrease in fuel consumption and emissions was better than we could imagine. The data clearly shows the overall improvements and more drivers across the Kansas City area will benefit from the InSync System as we move toward implementing it in other areas."

How does the system work?

            The InSync system uses video to evaluate the volume and flow of traffic. As vehicles move toward each signal, traffic signals will intelligently adapt to the amount of traffic flow and keep a large group of vehicles moving through each intersection with minimal disruption to the side streets.

The InSync system benefits the city of Lee's Summit in addition to MoDOT. Thanks to the improved traffic flow along Route 291, the city has moved its law enforcement efforts from Route 291 to other areas due to the decrease in traffic signal incidents, such as red light running. Based on the data already gathered, it is anticipated that the number of collisions at each intersection will decrease. This will become evident once an incident study is complete one to three years after the system has been in place. Law enforcement in the Lee's Summit area had originally increased enforcement along Route 291 to run a Red Light Running campaign to limit the number of vehicles illegally moving through an intersection. They have been able to reduce the number of law enforcement officers due to the implementation of the enhanced system along Route 291, which has reduced the number of vehicles moving through a red light. MoDOT is also in the process of working with the city of Lee's Summit to help implement the InSync system along some of the busier city streets to improve congestion. 

"We are pleased to see the results of this system and how it improves traffic flow through Lee's Summit," said Michael Park, Traffic Engineer for Lee's Summit. "We have not seen any negative impacts on the side streets as you would normally see on a system similar to this one. In fact, we have received several phone calls from the community driving Route 291 who are surprised and pleased to be able to drive from one end to the other without seeing a red light."

The cost of the system placed along Route 291 is comparable to most video detection systems found at a traffic signal. The system was implemented in March 2009 as a pilot program. MRI conducted its first after-period study in April. A full statistical analysis will be performed after the final after-period study is completed in September.

For more information about other MoDOT projects, please visit MoDOT's Web site at www.modot.mo.gov/kansascity.


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