Dallas Traffic Lights Are Terrible, So City Wants to Spend $250 Million on an Overhaul

Categories: City Hall

Thumbnail image for InwoodRoadBrokenTrafficSignal.jpg
City of Dallas
In the industry, this is what's known as a "structural failure."
You're right. Your mind, however warped it may be by traffic-induced rage, is not playing tricks on you. Dallas' 1,500 traffic signals are just as terrible as you think they are, maybe more so. By the city's own admission, they're plagued by outages and are far more likely to topple in a stiff wind than they should be. The majority have broken sensors, meaning they can no longer detect the presence of cars and must instead rely on their mindless pre-programmed timing schedule. Nearly 80 percent are classified as "obsolete."

Of course, that's what happens when you neglect something until it breaks, which has been the city's maintenance strategy over the past several decades.

City officials think now might be the time to change that. The Dallas City Council was briefed this morning on a 25-year, $250 million plan to overhaul the city's traffic signals and implement a plan of regular maintenance.

"We don't have a comprehensive program, and we think that's really important for a system that's the age of Dallas'," assistant city manager Forest Turner told the council.

Council members lapped it up. Sandy Greyson called the plan "terrific." Dwaine Caraway said he'd be "totally supportive." Philip Kingston applauded interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez "for a renewed focus on infrastructure."

City staffers recommend replacing 60 signals during the first year, though whether that goal is met depends on whether $10 million can be found in next year's budget. Same goes for the years after that.

For now, though, everyone seems to agree it will be worth the investment, since the new signals will meet federal and state standards, reduce congestion, lower maintenance, and operations cost. Also -- and this is particularly important -- they will come equipped with sensors that can detect bicycles. The next step will be implanting those in driver's skulls.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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20 comments
Obummer
Obummer

Yo ah knowz ah would fly down dere an' fix dis here if ah didn't gots ta spend so darned much tyme improving muh golf game.

Threeboys
Threeboys

60 a year. Now that's a breakneck pace.

WylieH
WylieH

I love the way the staff PowerPoint says something to the effect of:  "now is an appropriate time to implement such a policy."  No--- the time to implement such a policy was when the original capital expenditures were made.  That is the way organizations managed by grown ups handle such issues.  The only reason they are doing it now is they have absolutely no choice--- they can no longer cover up the impacts of this rank incompetence.

WylieH
WylieH

Yet another thing Mary Suhm neglected on her watch, while simultaneously splurging on all sorts of Trinity Toll Road related research & development.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Why worry about stuff like this, we have a string thingy bridge, a deck park and an arts sandbox area thingy?


Besides, wasn't it just few months ago that the Council was singing hosanna's about Queen Mary's wonderful tenure as THE City Manager and all of her wonderful accomplishments?


I guess they forgot about her not maintaining the traffic light system.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

In the words of Whitt,  What the What?  60 lights in one year, out of 1500?  Thats a joke, and knowing Dallas, they will do the 60 least important and still functioning properly lights first. 

Also, why do 1/2 the lights in downtown flash red when it rains

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

What difference does it make if the signals work when every asshat driver is too busy facespacing and twitting to look at the lights anyway?

They're either going 20 and weaving, or not moving after the light changes.

Oxtail
Oxtail

250 mil seems a bit much to control traffic. I say they should just continue with the city's zero cost random speedbump program. That one I hit in the middle of Garland road today will sure make me slow down.

Greg820
Greg820

Do we really need new traffic "system?"Can't we just get by with another park named after a rich white couple?

CowtownBassGirl
CowtownBassGirl

25 years to fix this problem? 4 a day would get the job done in a year. 

markzero
markzero

@WylieH They probably actually had a policy at the beginning, but maintenance programs are always easy targets for people looking for quick fixes for budget shortfalls while disregarding long-term consequences as SEP.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

no worries, Im sure we will find some building to name after because of all the great things she has done for Dallas! 

WylieH
WylieH

@ScottsMerkin At least they revert to "flashing red."  Other signals simply go dark.  At one particular intersection where this is known to happen, some of the locals put out lawn chairs under an awning when it is raining to watch "traffic roulette" as cars speed through the intersection blindly--- they like to watch for close calls and real accidents--- guess it beat watching "Cops."

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

@Greg820 Try driving Northwest Highway between the Tollway and I-35 on a day when it's cold and/or wet. Odds are at least two or three lights are flashing red in all directions. This is welcome news.

markzero
markzero

@CowtownBassGirl Time to play 'how many city contractors does it take to screw in a light bulb, and where's my equity?'

Greg820
Greg820

@Chuck_Schick Sacrasm sometimes does not work well in text form.  There was a light out for 5 days on Mockingbird by 75, a vewry congested area WITH lights.

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