Austin Answered: Why aren’t Austin’s traffic signals better timed?
The perception that Austin’s traffic lights are poorly synchronized, or not coordinated at all, is venerable, widespread and deeply felt.
Jared Wall is one of five city of Austin traffic signal engineers who spend their days studying and fine-tuning the city’s 999 signalized intersections, and knows all too well how the caprices of traffic stymie their efforts. But even he, plying Austin’s overstuffed streets, can fall prey to this notion when a trip from a freshly green light is abruptly halted by red at the next cross street.
“Sometimes I say, ‘Man, I could have timed this one better,’ ” Wall said. But even the best-designed timing plan can be disrupted by accidents, special events, weather or surges of traffic. “Not to discount anything that anyone says, but most people don’t understand the complexities of it.”