2 min read
Posted on 04.27.12
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 04.27.12

People ask me about traffic signals ' some, because they believe that whatever their speed, the time, or location, every light they encounter ought to be green; others, because they have noticed or suspected broken or mistimed traffic lights.

St. Louis is an older city, one with a street grid that predates the automobile. Since the early 1960s and end of streetcars, we have been auto-centric (though less so in recent years, with Metro and Complete Streets planning).

We have hundreds of signalized intersections and limited resources ' so modernization has had to happen incrementally and over time. In the past 17 years, the City of St. Louis has spent $52 million on traffic signals. Since 2000 alone, we have spent $26 million on traffic signals and we have an additional $11 million of signals currently under design or construction. By the end of the year, every 1960s-era electro-mechanical signal in the city will have been replaced with a digital signal.

There are currently 400 city signals that are connected by fiber to a control center. In addition, MoDOT maintains 100 signals in the city, and half of those can be monitored at the city's control center.

Once this year's construction is complete, an additional 80 city signals will also be connected. According to the Streets Department, only 60 or so city signals will remain under stand-alone operation by the end of this year.

Over the next couple of years, the city wants to spend $2 million to replace the 20-year old "brain" that controls the connected traffic signals and an additional $6 million to replace the 60 orphaned traffic signals.

The size of the system and the availability of funding in any given year mean that there will never be a moment when all the city's traffic signals are new and state-of-art at the same time. But, a plan and continued investment is making the entire system better each year.

If you suspect that a traffic light in the City of St. Louis is broken or mistimed, contact the Citizens Service Bureau and tell them the location.