New controllers will adjust to changing conditions instead of relying on timed, preprogrammed traffic lights
The nation's third-largest county is at the forefront of traffic control
Harris County, Texas — with more than 3 million residents — will be
the first to use the Advanced Transportation Controller (ATC) 2070 standard,
which has yet to be formally adopted.
The technology will enable traffic controllers at intersections to handle
a variety of functions from within a single box. Currently, traffic control
systems, such as closed-circuit TV cameras, highway advisory radio and changeable
message signs, require their own controllers.
ATC 2070 also will make the deployment of advanced control technologies,
such as real-time, adaptive systems, more feasible for use on major city
streets and roads, according to Raj Ghaman, travel management team leader
for the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Operations Research and
Using artificial intelligence, traffic pattern history and real-time
detection data, new ATC controllers will be able to adjust to changing traffic
conditions instead of relying on timed, pre-programmed traffic lights.
Unlike other systems — which are proprietary and can control only a
few traffic functions — the ATC 2070 controllers are based on open technology
that requires traffic control systems to use the same communication ports,
interchangeable modems and standard operating systems.
"In the near future we will have about 200 of these new ATC controllers
installed throughout the county, and we are also building a fiber-optic
network that will link them and bring a feed back to a central control room
where they can be monitored," said Victor Fredericksen, manager of Harris
County's Traffic Planning and Design section. "It will take a couple of
years to get them installed at all the 500 or so signalized intersections
under our control."
Other urban areas, such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and
Portland, Ore., also plan to install ATC 2070 equipment.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
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