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Miami approves installation of 300 new ‘smart’ traffic lights

To help ease gridlock across the county

A traffic light in Miami Beach with palm trees in the background
A traffic light in Miami Beach
via Pixabay

Miami-Dade County is expanding an experimental program comprised of smart traffic lights in an effort to help alleviate congestion, according to the South Florida Business Journal, with commissioners providing unanimous approval.

California-based Econolite won the $11 million contract, which includes the installation of 300 new traffic signals (roughly 10 percent of all county lights). The roads with this technology were chosen based on a study by the city’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The light-switching decisions are controlled by a computer, utilizing “a mix of sensors and algorithms to determine which part of the intersection should be given the green light at any given time,” per the Herald:

Digital analysis of a video feed replaces the human eye, while sensors pick up passing Bluetooth signals from vehicles to detect changes in average speeds. From there, a computerized system coordinates changes in multiple intersections to try and speed traffic through the busiest corridors.

Miami-Dade started a test of the technology in November on 36th Street, with computers controlling eight intersections between 71st and 84th avenues. The computers allow the kind of rapid-fire calculations no human could manage. Shortly after Vasquez added 30 seconds to a green light to try and clear Le Jeune, the computerized lights on 36th Avenue sensed trouble — and took action, too. Their adjustments were just far subtler.

Installation will take a year.