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Signals On 26th Street Will Change With Traffic

January 7, 2014, 5:02 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Signals On 26th Street Will Change With Traffic

New technology promises to make the commute on a busy Sioux Falls street more efficient.

New cameras are capturing data along East 26th Street at 10 different intersections -- stretching from Van Eps Avenue all the way to Rosa Parks Elementary School.

Later this month, the technology will automatically change the traffic signals throughout the day. City officials estimate 25,000 to 28,000 vehicles drive on the targeted stretch of 26th Street every day.

Local business owner Steve Klooster sees all the traffic as well.

"During rush hour up until about 8:15 a.m., Southeastern can get backed up for over a mile," Klooster said.

Klooster owns a hair salon and rents out office space near the intersection of 26th Street and Southeastern Avenue and says it gets especially dangerous when traffic backs up on the nearby interchange with Interstate 229.

"You see cars pulled over along the interstate trying to exit. We've had customers who have called us at 5:00 p.m. and are sitting there just waiting to exit and it's not a good thing because sooner or later, there's going to be an accident," Klooster said.

That's why the city spent $300,000 of the surplus from 2013 on nearly 40 cameras and adaptive traffic technology.

"It's the most cutting edge technology you can have to move traffic," Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter said.

The city, along with the Federal Highway Administration and the South Dakota Department of Transportation, has been looking into the technology for a few years. It's the first project of its kind in the state. The cameras will automatically count cars and adjust traffic signals up and down 26th Street based on the vehicle volume.

"So it's looking at the number of vehicles and the wait that they've had at the different approaches, so it's constantly looking at that and trying to calculate the best way to efficiently move these cars through these intersections," Sioux Falls Principal Traffic Engineer Heath Hoftiezer said.

Sioux Falls officials want drivers to pay attention to the changes because they say sitting at the intersections isn't going to be as predictable as it has been in the past.

"What you are normally accustomed to is coming up to an intersection, stopping, and maybe waiting for several other phases to occur before you go. If there is nobody in those phases, you're going to pull up there and in probably a very short time, you're going to get a green light to go," Cotter said.

Drivers will notice the difference later this month.

Klooster says it's a welcome change.

"I think it's a great idea. If they can keep the traffic flowing and free up the congestion, it'd be great," Klooster said.

The signals will start adapting to traffic on January 20. City officials say depending on how it works here, the next target area is 41st Street.

For more information on the adaptive traffic signals on 26th Street, visit the city's website. 

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