Motorists to benefit from signal updates

Motorists may expect to spend less time sitting at traffic lights once federally funded updates are made to traffic lights in town of Farragut.

To get the ball rolling, Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved unanimously an agreement with Tennessee Department of Transportation during BOMA’s meeting Thursday, April 13, to develop the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality-funded project to upgrade the Town’s 26 current traffic lights to a Town-wide, centrally controlled system.

“The addition of a centralized control will enable us to more readily make adjustments to timing, as well as to monitor situations during peak hours when we're alerted to a problem,” Daryl Smith, Town engineer, said. “Also, the new controllers and radar detection equipment will eliminate many of the issues we've experienced over the last few years.”

Smith said he is not certain motorists will have to stop at lights less often.

However, “The idea is to improve the overall efficiency of the system,” he added. “It's safe to say that motorists will spend less time sitting in stopped traffic.

“Additionally, we will see improved vehicle detection and greater reliability of our controllers, so motorists won't have to deal with signals that don't see them waiting to turn left or going on ‘flash’ mode so often due to problems with the controllers.”

Early last year, the Town’s

staff applied for the grant for the project.

The Town was informed in December 2016 that its request for funding on the project, which totals $2.9 million, was approved, Smith said.

The good news is the project is completely CMAQ-funded, so the Town is not responsible for matching the grant.

“We’re very pleased with it,” Smith said.

However, “Is it’s a slow process when you are spending someone else’s money,” Smith said.

“Do we have a time frame for each of [the phases] of the project?” Alderman Louise Povlin asked.

“Um, slow,” Smith said. “It takes a little while to get all approvals. We received [National Environmental Policy Act] approval for the previous CMAQ project back in November or December. We’ve been waiting on that since last spring.

“With approval of this [traffic light] agreement, we will send it back to TDOT, and they will give us notice to proceed with the NEPA phase,” he added. “At that point we will select and work up a proposal with a consultant, present that to the Board for approval. Then, it goes back to TDOT and at that point, they can begin the NEPA phase.”

Currently, of the Town’s 26 traffic lights, he said only one — the Kingston Pike-Virtue Road signal — is operated by radar.

“And it isn’t working right now,” Smith added.

The Town initially will have to pay for each phase but will be reimbursed by the state.

The new system will be based in Farragut Town Hall.

“We will be able to monitor a little bit,” Smith said, adding, “No, we’re not going to be in there playing with the timing on these things because it’s a very delicate balancing act. But we will be able to make adjustments as needed.”