The time-saving power of synchronization

Irvine’s $70 million of traffic fixes include a huge network of synchronized lights to speed up your commute.

BY TOM BERG

We’ve all experienced it, you’re cruising down a street listening to your favorite song when bam, red light, bam, red light — for no apparent reason.

Irvine is taking an upper hand on this dilemma by synchronizing more than 200 lights — about 60 percent of all intersections — along several major corridors.

“Our modeling estimates show about a 10 percent improvement in travel times along these corridors,” says Irvine Transportation Director Mark Linsenmayer. “We anticipate drivers might save two, three, four or five minutes on their typical commute.”

Four minutes per trip translates to 40 minutes per week – and more than 33 hours per year – saved by commuters on a synchronized corridor. (See map above)

SMART LIGHTS AND EASIER LEFT TURNS

In addition, Linsenmayer will introduce new “smart” lights at several intersections this year. These lights use artificial intelligence, or A.I., to react to varying traffic conditions minute by minute — and adjust the light sequence accordingly.

Relief also is coming to drivers who must wait for left-turn arrows when no traffic is approaching. The city will add six new lights this year that allow easier left turns. The first intersections to get them are: Culver- Florence; Sand Canyon-Towngate; Culver-Farwell; Irvine Ctr. Dr.-Odyssey; Irvine Ctr. Dr.-Tesla; and Rockfield-Oldfield. More will follow.