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City eyes more streets after seeing results of signal timing update on Greenback Lane

A sign on Greenback Lane informs drivers that signals are timed to optimize travel at 40 miles per hour through Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
Following the city’s recent tweaking of traffic signal timing on Greenback Lane, data from the city shows drivers on average now experience a 14% quicker travel time when going through Citrus Heights.

The results have prompted the city to eye Sunrise Boulevard for a similar signal timing project.

Data released by the city on Thursday shows overall project benefits on Greenback Lane include a 17% increase in average speed, a 14% drop in travel time, a 40% drop in the average number of stops and a 48% drop in average delays.

That computes to an average travel time of 7 minutes and 20 seconds to get from the western border of Citrus Heights at Indian River Drive to the eastern city limits at Fair Oaks Boulevard, according to the city’s engineering department. The average travel time previously was 8 minutes and 32 seconds to travel the same corridor.

The changes affected 14 signals on Greenback Lane located within the City of Citrus Heights, which is a 3.5-mile stretch from Indian River Drive to Fair Oaks Boulevard. According to the city, an average of 43,500 vehicles travel along the corridor every day.

Related: City tweaks signal timing to give good drivers more green lights on Greenback Lane

Residents posting comments about the new signal timing on the city’s Facebook page say the changes are noticeable, but some complain of long turn signal wait times. One driver quipped that she still thought “a woman could give birth waiting for the turn signal at Park Oaks and Bremen.”

Asked how data was collected, City Principal Civil Engineer Leslie Blomquist said before-and-after results were collected through “Floating Car Data” studies.

“This is where we track cars going up and down the corridor during all times of the day and record the number of times the cars stop, how long it takes, and how long the wait is at each traffic signal,” she said in an email. Before-and-after data was then averaged and turned into percentages.

Blomquist said studies were conducted while traveling at the rate of speed as other vehicles on the roadway, but not over the speed limit of 40 miles per hour, which is the speed that signals are optimized for.

Signs notifying drivers of the signal timing have been posted on Greenback Lane for several years, and Blomquist said the signals have been coordinated for decades. The latest changes were an update to the existing signal timings, due to traffic patterns and usage changing over time, she said.

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