College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Research from CCEE professor could help decrease time spent at stop lights (text-only)

If you’ve been held up at a poorly-organized intersection, Chris Day has a solution to your frustration. Day, a transportation engineering assistant professor in Iowa State University’s Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Department (ISU CCEE), has teamed up with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to help monitor the operations of traffic signals.

Day’s project looks to develop tools for transportation agencies to implement automated performance measures for traffic lights.

“This project is the latest in a continuous series of state and federal research projects on this topic, which I have been involved with since 2006. This FHWA project will be undertaken in parallel with another Iowa DOT project, where I am helping cities in Iowa implement automated traffic signal performance measures” says Chris Day.

Day says that few agencies currently have the ability to continuously monitor conditions at traffic signals. The concept of continuous signal monitoring is achievable at a low cost and can usually work with existing equipment. Implementing this monitoring technology could help agencies improve signal timing and maintenance.

The next step is to document benefits and costs agencies are experiencing with use of this technology. Day points out that previous studies show large benefits in certain case studies with poor existing conditions. This project will take on the harder problem of characterizing benefits and costs beyond the initial deployment through the project service life.