Sinanan: New traffic light technology will ease traffic

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan examines the newly installed Traffic Signal Detection equipment at the corner of the Churchill Roosevelt highway and Golden Grove Road, Piarco on Sunday. Looking on is signal specialist Ronald Rackal. – Angelo Marcelle

FROM Monday morning, drivers can expect some reprieve from peak-hour traffic jams around the Golden Grove Road, Churchill Roosevelt highway intersection – one of the nation’s busiest.

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan, on Sunday, presented the ministry’s latest measure to alleviate traffic, which involves a monitoring and management system that controls traffic lights based on traffic flow rather than on a timed rotation.

Sinanan spoke with the media at the intersection – one of seven currently in operation from a total of 14 the ministry intends to implement. The system covers the stretch from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, up to the Golden Grove Road traffic lights.

The traffic monitoring system also exists at the Gulf City intersection in San Fernando and the remaining along the east-west corridor.

Sinanan said such measures are intended to streamline technology in the country’s traffic management system while physical infrastructural improvements are done.

“We cannot build ourselves out of a traffic jam,” said Sinanan.

“We can’t build enough highways.

“We can’t expand the road network, because we do have limitations that cost a lot of money, (in addition to) land acquisition challenges.

“So, we’re trying to use technology to assist us to have the flow of traffic in a much smoother and more organised way.”

He said cameras will monitor the entire intersection.

“If there is no traffic flowing in the (opposite) direction, the light will not turn red.

“It’s about managing the flow of traffic. And this is just one method.”

Sinanan admitted many drivers are afraid to stop at isolated intersections at night.

“This assists with that. A lot of people are hesitant to stop for (their) safety and this eliminates that because if there’s no traffic, there’s no red.”

The ministry previously used technology and equipment embedded in the asphalt to monitor the traffic but that “didn’t hold out” the minister said, because of pressure from heavy vehicles and road movements.

He said maintenance was costly, about five times that of the new system, and did not work most times.

In addition to the traffic monitoring cameras, some 60 traffic lights will soon be linked and synchronised to provide a smoother flow.

The system will be managed by the Traffic Maintenance Centre inside the Caroni Licencing Office.

“What we have coming, very soon, (is) red light enforcement, the spot-speed (instant speed detection) enforcement,” Sinanan said.

There are two “hard projects” involving construction and extensive road works carded for Chagauanas, said Sinanan, as well as other projects set for San Fernando and Sangre Grande.