Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

MOUNT CLEMENS -- When it comes to traffic lights, timing is everything.

That's what the Road Commission of Macomb County has determined since the start of an experiment two years ago aimed at making travel in the county more efficient.

The commission has been testing out a high-tech system for controlling the timing of traffic signals along Mound Road between Eight Mile and Hall Road since 2006.

The system has saved the 70,000 motorists who drive the 12-mile stretch of Mound Road daily an estimated $2 million in fuel costs during the two years, said Adam Merchant, the road commission's traffic engineer.

And the commission plans to expand the computerized system to other roads during the next year, he said.

"The whole idea is mobility," Merchant said. "The goal is to enable motorists to get to a place in the shortest amount of time and without any traffic delays."

The commission calls the project Signal Optimization. On Mound Road, the system uses cameras, computers and sensors in the pavement to detect traffic tie-ups and adjust the signals' timing to alleviate congestion. The technology will save motorists fuel, money and time by preventing them from idling at intersections and relieving traffic congestion, Merchant said.

Other benefits include less pollution from vehicle tailpipes in the air, and travel is safer because drivers have to make fewer stops, cutting down the potential for accidents, he said.

During the next year, the commission will spend about $750,000 to analyze traffic patterns and develop traffic signal timing programs for stretches on five major county roads.

Money for the project is coming from federal highway grants.

The roads the commission has targeted for the high-tech system are:

• Schoenherr Road between Eight Mile and 23 Mile.• Garfield between Utica to 21 Mile.
• Hayes between Utica and Hall Roads.
• Metropolitan Parkway between Dequindre and Jefferson.
• Harper Avenue between Eight Mile and Metro Parkway.

Andrea Kanakry, 32, of Warren said she's all for anything that can be done to make it easier for her to get around, since driving is a big part of her job. She owns Andrea's Gift Boutique and Florist on 13 Mile at Mound and makes all of its deliveries herself, she said.

"I know traffic on Mound moves pretty well," she said. "It can get a little busy on the road when the Tech Center lets out. But other than that, it's a good traveling road."


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