The last of the Los Angeles' nearly 4,400 traffic signals were synchronized Tuesday, marking completion of a project designed to lessen the amount of time that drivers spend in gridlock.
City officials convened at the intersection of South Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard to turn on the final traffic signal in the system.
The Automated Traffic Surveillance & Control system (ATSAC), a $410 million effort to coordinate traffic signals across the city under a centralized system, could reduce the average amount of time drivers spend in traffic by one day per year, according to city transportation officials.
Lights in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood have certainly seen the impact of the work, especially at local intersections in the summer of 2012.
According to Los Angeles Department of Transportation engineers, ATSAC utilizes a network of sensors embedded in city streets that measure the number of vehicles, vehicle speed and the level of congestion centered around 4,000 of Los Angeles' more than 4,300 intersections with traffic signals. Computer systems as well as human operators work to detect traffic flow and ultimately controls signal timing to allow traffic to flow better where the system is installed. Police and emergency vehicles will also be able to take advantage of the new system.
Synchronization is designed to increase travel speed by 12 percent, while decreasing the time spent stuck in traffic by 16 percent, according to Jaime de la Vega, general manager of the LADOT
District 11 City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who attended the event Tuesday with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city officials, told Patch afterwards that he already put in a request with Caltrans to advise ongoing delays happening with the traffic signal at the busy Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway intersection in Pacific Palisades. That signal should be fixed by Caltrans very soon, he said.
"L.A. is the first major city to use signal synchronization," Rosendahl said. "In spite of the problems that came along, I was happy to be standing there with the mayor and [Councilmember] Jan Perry. They showed real leadership. It will help. It's not the real solution, but it's a step in the right direction."
Rosendahl said he's been pushing for this project's completion for the last two years while serving on the Transportation Committee, and worked with Villaraigosa for the last five years on expanding the city's bike lanes and connecting them with the train systems, other cyclists and pedestrians.
However L.A.'s mass transit strategy shapes up in the coming years, Rosendahl said the signal synchronization part is complete, and lights are LED and use less energy than before.
For the gridlock in his district on the Westside, Rosendahl said not enough was created to support the use of the surface streets and freeways. He called on the City of Santa Monica to "step up to the plate" and help with improving drive time.
"As of today, we have synchronized every traffic signal in the City of Los Angeles," said Mayor Villaraigosa, who also commended the effort for potentially reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, since vehicles will be less likely to idle and emit exhaust.
"By synchronizing our traffic signals, we will spend nearly a day less (per year) waiting and reduce pollution by nearly a metric ton of carbon every year," he said.
The synchronization system was first proposed prior to the 1984 Olympic games held in Los Angeles. But the project lapsed until 2005, when Villaraigosa lobbied for the allocation of $150 million in Proposition 1B money to complete the program.
- City News Service contributed to this report.