The Press Herald of Portland, Maine recently ran an article discussing efforts to ease traffic on Forest Avenue, one of the busiest roadways in the entire state of Maine. These efforts center around the Surtrac intelligent traffic signal control system, and local residents and businesses are already taking notice after its installation.
The article includes a quote from Dan Pratt, a Metro bus driver who is currently assigned to Forest Avenue. Pratt has seen how bad traffic can get at the intersections in Portland, sometimes stretching nearly two miles, from Forest Avenue Plaza all the way to Morrill’s Corner.
However, the article notes that Pratt has started to see an improvement in traffic congestion. The city started with a 15-month-long construction project at Woodfords Corner and followed that up with Rapid Flow’s installation of Surtrac at Morrill’s Corner.
“It has shorted up the wait times a lot,” Pratt said about the Surtrac adaptive traffic signal control system. “It seems to know when there’s a lot more traffic on Forest and Stevens Avenue and adjusts those light times.”
The article goes on to discuss Portland’s plan to implement the Surtrac smart traffic signal system at six additional intersections along Forest Avenue. Though Surtrac is a decentralized, edge-computing AI system, each intersection can communicate with its neighbors in order to optimize the flow of traffic, which should help to further alleviate Portland’s congestion issues.
Instead of using static timers, Surtrac adjusts the lights based on sensors that measure traffic volumes up to 1,000 feet away. After analysis, it was determined that Surtrac initially produced a 20% reduction in traffic delays for the city, and additional improvements resulted in an additional 9% reduction.
“I’ve noticed a big difference, especially with cars not backing up on Allen Avenue Extension,” Julie Rosenbach said. “It used to back up a few blocks.”
Dan Pratt, the bus driver, said he hopes that Surtrac will be installed at more intersections in the near future.
The Surtrac installation is one part of Portland’s “smart cities” program, which also includes efficient LED bulbs for street lights and free public Wi-Fi. The Press Herald notes that these investments should save the city $1 million annually in energy and maintenance costs.Access the full Press Herald article here: Portland’s effort to ease traffic is helping Forest Avenue turn a corner