City to set up ‘smart’ traffic signals

By Robert Frank

Laval intends to install intelligent traffic lights along some of its main traffic arteries. The city aims to use the cutting-edge transit technology to expedite commuters.

“The idea is to help bus drivers remain on time,” executive committee vice-chairman David de Cotis told The Suburban. “We’re looking at boulevards like Corbusier, Labelle and Concorde.”

“Each bus will have special communication equipment installed,” de Cotis, who also serves as chairman of the city transit authority, Société de transport de Laval (STL), explained in an interview. “If the bus driver is late on his route and the traffic light is red, a sensor will indicate that he is late and turn the signal green so he can continue on his route and pick up the time required.”

“Likewise, if the bus is too early and the light is green, a signal will be sent out to turn the light red to slow down the bus driver,” he added. “The objective is to provide the best possible service to clientele. Obviously this system will be optimized to facilitate police, firefighters and ambulance drivers as well.

“Laval is one of the first cities in Quebec to implement smart traffic lights,” he enthused. “We started working on street studies by different engineering companies in 2014.”

The initiative was made possible by a Transport Quebec subsidy, de Cotis said.

“The provincial government will cover 75 percent of STL’s $25 million project,” he said. He added that the province was prepared to provide enough funds to support a $35 million project, but that not enough time remains before Quebec City’s Dec. 31, 2016 completion deadline.

“The only condition is that the work has to be complete by that date,” de Cotis noted. “Because of those time constraints, we won’t be able to use all of the money that is available.”

“You can’t simply install them anywhere in the city,” he observed. “Studies are needed to indicate to us where and how to move forward with smart traffic lights and reserved lanes. Some streets need to be made wider or longer in order to accommodate them.”

The city won’t begin installing the first devices at intersections until this summer.

“The work cannot be done during winter months,” de Cotis said.
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