Stuck in traffic is no way to spend the morning

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 4, 2014

Each weekday, morning motorists heading south towards the intersection of U.S. 11 and Miss. 43 north are met with a line of vehicles waiting their turn to proceed through the stoplight.

This situation resembles what residents of Pearl River County faced more than eight years ago after Hurricane Katrina. The additional population in this county caused extensive traffic delays along the same section of road.

At that time, the Mississippi Department of Transportation installed sensors in the asphalt paired with light timing adjustment equipment at the intersection. When functional, the technology helps to rectify the traffic build up that occurs during peak hours.

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The sensors worked great for a couple of years, but the Item learned from previous coverage of the system that the sensors break easily, sending the system back to a default light pattern. Have the sensors failed again?

It is obvious that the default light pattern is not the best way to get large amounts of traffic through the intersection.

There is new technology that monitors traffic and changes the light pattern more effectively. These systems are in use in Picayune further down U.S. 11.

These systems employ cameras perched high above the road, protecting them from the damage the asphalt sensors incur. Traffic at intersections with the new technology move smoothly. The sensors change the light to green for lanes with the most traffic; lanes with no traffic will remain red. Once the pattern of traffic changes, the lights change accordingly.

From time to time, MDOT will do traffic counts by placing specially designed devices along roads of interest. The data collected is used to determine if changes to the traffic device is required.

Perhaps it is time to do another traffic count along U.S. 11, with additional information concerning how much time motorists are left waiting for their turn to get through the intersection. At best, MDOT should upgrade the asphalt sensors at the U.S. 11 and Miss. 43 north intersection to the camera sensors. That may solve the problem without a traffic study.