There’s at least one place at City Hall in Santa Clarita where it’s definitely not a good idea to make up a traffic excuse when running late for work.
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The 12-man Traffic and Transportation Planning Division has eyes on Santa Clarita roads, quite literally, almost everywhere.
Through the use of a sophisticated Traffic Operations Center, fiberoptics and enough computer cables to run the starship Enterprise, city officials can look at what’s happening at all 182 traffic-signal intersections in Santa Clarita.
They even share information with CalTrans and Los Angeles County for the unincorporated parts.
“Every (traffic) movement has a phase,” said city traffic engineer Ian Pari, explaining the mechanisms behind what makes the city stop and go. “So you know how much time you have for each phase, and you make sure you don’t have conflicting phases.”
While the timing is managed by a massive, walk-in closet-sized server built by city traffic engineers like Cesar Romo, who’s the signal operations supervisor, anticipated changes are handled by Ian Pari, the transportation planning supervisor.
When a light goes down, Romo figures out where and why. When there’s a project that handles significant planning, such as the addition at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, that’s taken on by Pari.
Gus Pivetti, who’s also a city traffic engineer, evaluates need when someone requests a stop sign or a crosswalk, while Andrew Yi oversees the division for Robert Newman, who’s the director of public works.
The city’s computerized system assures there will be no “conflicting phases” — the system is hardwired to assure two simultaneous green lights could never happen, even if the system were hacked a la “Mission Impossible.”
However, making sure someone addresses complaints, and ensures that the signal system remains coordinated so that there’s adequate time to cross the road, is a modern marvel of synchronicity.
As anything in life, the traffic signals are all about timing — and state law.
Each intersection is set for a 132-second cycle, meaning that the entire traffic cycle at a given intersection must take 132 seconds — a figure set by research and guided by law — in order for all city lights to stay synchronized.
What that means is when someone pushes a “Walk” button at an intersection, a signal is sent to the light to let it know someone is about to cross.
The light then grants the person a segment of time based on the size of the intersection and a state formula. It used to be 4 feet per second, and now it’s 3.5 feet per second because we have an aging population, Pari said. However, this is variable based on how frequently the intersection is used.
And regardless of what people might think, hitting the walk button more than once does nothing, Pari said, except to send a repeat signal to the light that someone is waiting.
The time that the light will give you is predetermined based on the need for synchronicity.
And then when those signals at an intersection do go down, require maintenance or need future planning, there are three groups in the city’s office that are set to handle it.
When a light or a crosswalk is requested, the city then looks at the data to determine if the traffic volumes warrant it, Pari said.
If anyone does have such a request, they’re encouraged to use the city’s eService, which is available at santa-clarita.com.
“Synchronicity works best when vehicles are what we call ‘platooned’ or all traveling together,” Pari said.
“Of course, everyone doesn’t drive at the same speed, so every once in awhile we have them stop at a red light,” he said. “It’s more efficient.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News