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Wichita City Council approves funding to help speed up drivers' commutes

Published: Oct. 22, 2019 at 5:36 PM CDT
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The Wichita City Council Tuesday approved funding to help speed up drivers' commutes across town.

The council voted to approve $250,000 that will lead to synchronizing stoplights. The technology is already in use along Maple from Maize Road to McLean.

With the tech upgrade, drivers along Maple may have noticed a recent change.

"Ultimately we're looking to save time. We're looking to minimize stops, to minimize delays, Wichita City Engineer Gary Janzen says.

He says the City of Wichita started working on the pilot project to synchronize stoplights along Maple last year. Now, signals between Maize and McLean are set up to make sure drivers encounter few red lights.

"We found out during this trial, we were able to save an average of two minutes travel time, which is pretty significant," Janzen says. "Also, it's two and a half less stops per vehicle, which is quite a bit."

Janzen says synchronizing lights cuts down on fuel costs, as well as saving time. With success along Maple, Janzen says the city is looking at other areas to improve traffic flow.

"The biggest thing we want to do next is move downtown to the Central Business District," he says. "We have started doing some things there already. The challenge downtown right now is it's all preset timing. There is no vehicle detection, there is no pedestrian detection."

Janzen says the funding approved by the city council will allow the city to start adding pedestrian-push buttons in the near future, and eventually, synchronized stoplights.

He says the city is also looking at using similar technology along Rock Road and Central to help traffic flow smoothly through some of the city's busiest streets.