Seeking to create a more efficient ride for local drivers and bicyclists, Palo Alto plans to reprogram traffic lights along several major streets.
The new effort will roll out on major segments of Embarcadero Road, Bryant Street, University Avenue and San Antonio Road.
The most immediate change, according to the city, will take place along Embarcadero, between Bryant and Geng Road. The traffic signals along that segment will be reprogrammed from a "continuous loop" to a time-of-day system, with different timing loops operating at different hours, based on expected traffic flow.
"As the new timing is rolled out, City staff will be making adjustments in the field to ensure that the new programming is operating as efficiently as possible," the city's announcement stated.
A different type of adjustment will be made along San Antonio between East Charleston and Nita Avenue, as well as at the intersection of East Charleston and Fabian Way. Here, the city plans to install SynchroGreen software, which allows traffic signals to adapt automatically in real time based on traffic flow. The software has been used on Sand Hill Road since 2014, when the busy artery became the city's first corridor with adaptive signal timing.
Installing the new software on San Antonio will cost the city about $206,000, an expenditure that the City Council authorized last June when it approved a contract with the firm Trafficware, developer of SynchroGreen.
While the San Antonio traffic changes cater to all modes of transportation, the signal modifications that the city plans to make along Bryant and University would favor bicyclists. On both streets, the city plans to roll out "green waves," which will allow bicyclists to go through a series of green lights without stopping. According to the city, the signals will be timed to accommodate a traveling speed of 12 mph.
In addition, city officials plan to address later this summer the chronically frustrating intersection of El Camino Real and Embarcadero, which requires commuters traveling east to cross three traffic signals in close succession.
Because the El Camino intersection is operated by the California Department of Transportation, it follows its own timing plan and is not currently coordinated with nearby lights. However, city officials announced this week that they plan to install a new communication device at the traffic signal near Town & Country Village and Palo Alto High School that will allow the signal to run in coordination with the signal on El Camino.