The City of Ridgeland will soon take steps to become an even safer city with enhancements to traffic signals which will allow emergency vehicles to have a quicker response time.
Ridgeland received a Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant from the Jackson Urbanized Area Metropolitan Planning Organization totalling $954,000. This will be used to improve traffic signals at 29 already signalized intersections creating a safer city and improving traffic operations. The project will focus on traffic signal controllers, conflict monitors, network switches, emergency vehicles preemption equipment, and vehicle detection equipment.
“With this project, we are taking a proactive step in the operation and maintenance of our traffic signal system to provide increased efficiency and future reliability of the traffic signal system,” Ridgeland’s Mayor Gene McGee said.
The project has two major improvement areas. The first is Emergency Vehicle Preemption, which is critical to ensuring emergency response vehicles arrive at the scene as quickly as possible. This system allows the intersection to know in advance when the emergency vehicle will arrive. It will provide green lights so the responder can travel safely through the intersection within its path. It is a GPS-based system which tracks the emergency vehicle’s route and arrival time.
“The GPS preemption system will allow us to remotely monitor the location and status of emergency response vehicles and traffic status at approaching intersections at all times and provide real time mapping and emergency vehicle trip reports,” McGee said.
The second main improvement area is the installation of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) at the traffic signal locations. The UPS system that was approved with the project can provide up to eight hours of backup power when Entergy’s power grid is down.
“This will provide a safety net to prevent normal power outages from causing lengthy traffic backups and travel delays due to intersections going dark,” McGee said.
Additionally, the new systems will alert the city’s traffic management center when the signal performance degrades or when there is malfunctioning equipment. It also allows for optimal traffic efficiency because of its ability to track real-time data and traffic trends through these signals.
“This system will give us an early warning to correct timing problems or replace faulty equipment to minimize traffic disruption,” McGee said.
Residents will also be able to benefit not only from improved safety and traffic but directly from a connected vehicle application as the project evolves. This will communicate traffic information in real-time from the traffic signal controller to vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians who have their phone with them.
McGee said this project is important because traffic is important to the citizens of Ridgeland, and he believes it is important to maintain the city’s roads with a high level of service so citizens can enjoy a high quality of life.
“It is our responsibility to provide transportation corridors with the capacity that is needed, and it is our responsibility to maintain our traffic signals so they operate with the highest efficiency possible and minimize driver delays,” McGee said. “This project gives us greater abilities to know how efficiently our traffic systems are operating and will readily provide us with alerts when there are problems that need to be corrected.”
McGee said he anticipates advertising for projects bids in October with work beginning in December. The project is expected to take about a year with the anticipated end date in October 2022.
“The reason for such a lengthy contract is due to lead times in ordering a high volume of traffic signal equipment and installing this equipment at 29 different traffic signals located throughout Ridgeland,” McGee said.