Long red lights at Pinellas County "smart" intersections

Posted at 7:23 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 19:23:13-05

They’re called smart intersections and they’re supposed to make your commute through Pinellas County quicker, but ABC Action News discovered a flaw in the system that has many of you waiting at red lights. 

Laurie Hannum and Anthony Cingoranelli say they're wasting precious time waiting at red lights on US-19. When Hannum should be meeting with patients for her home healthcare nursing job, and Cingoranelli should be meeting with new clients for his landscaping company, both are stuck in traffic. 

“If you have appointments down in Tampa or Clearwater, you better cancel,” Cingoranelli explained. 

Pinellas County recently upgraded 120 intersections with a new technology called “In Sync.” It’s meant to sync up the lights with the flow of traffic.

Here's the thing: If you’re headed in a popular direction, great! However, if you happen to be going the other way, you could sit for several minutes on end. 

“Whoever timed the light obviously doesn’t have to wait at it,” Hannum said with a chuckle.

Pinellas County engineers who work in at the traffic control center in Clearwater keep tabs on hundreds of intersections. They know the “smart” technology isn’t perfect, but overall, it has reduced commute times by 15%.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who hasn’t noticed a drop in your commute time, you can call the engineers directly at 727-464-8926. They’re open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. but by this summer, they’ll staff the center 24/7. 

If you call to report a problem, the traffic engineers can actually fix the problem while you’re at the light, telling it to turn from red to green. 

Ken Jacobs, Pinellas County’s Transportation Director explains, “It might just be adding a second or two and that’ll take care of the problem. We can't have eyes on every intersection, so we really rely on the public's help to solve any issues.”

The county wants to work out the kinks on the system before they roll out the next batch of upgrades, including technology that allows your car to communicate with the roads you drive on. The connected technology should be complete within 5 years.



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