Houston is hoping to get smart about traffic with new technology

Traffic backs up where Interstate 610 and U.S. Highway 59 intersect near the Galleria area Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1999 in Houston. According to a study by the American Highway Users Alliance, Houston is home to two of the nation's worst highway bottlenecks. The study found that fixing the most serious congested areas nationwide would save lives, reduce pollution and shorten delays. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Seasoned Houston drivers are used to traffic, construction and seeing people proposing, threatening suicide in their underwear or riding on hoods of moving cars on the highway.

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It’s been there, done that for Loop 610 veterans, I-45 commuters and Tollway travelers.

But life behind the wheel in the Bayou City might soon become a more pleasant experience. That’s if City Council approves a $33.6 million package tomorrow, which could vastly streamline and manage communication along the area’s byways and corridors.

Partially funded by a $10 million federal grant, hundreds of traffic-tracking devices could be added across the city “so officials can receive better up-to-date information, respond by adjusting traffic signals and provide current conditions to drivers more quickly.”

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“The ability to visually verify incidents and alert drivers to travel times on parallel alternate arterial and freeway routes will be a benefit,” said Tony Voigt, a Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher based in Houston. “The ability to better detect vehicles at signals and use that data for signal timing updates at more frequent intervals — and in real-time, if necessary — will be a benefit.”

What do you think?

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