Operation Green Light project to improve traffic flow awarded SMART grant

Sep 18, 2023
| Posted in
View of traffic light and downtown KC from Burlington

The Mid-America Regional Council’s Operation Green Light program has been awarded a Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to use data to improve traffic flow, increase safety, save fuel and money, lower emissions, and make transit more reliable in the Kansas City region. The project will identify performance measures for traffic signal timing on select transportation corridors in the metro by soliciting vendor support, deploying the measures and evaluating over a 12-month period. This is one of 59 projects in 33 states to receive a SMART grant.

The SMART program provides grants to eligible public sector agencies to conduct demonstration projects that use technology and systems to improve transportation efficiency and safety. MARC coordinates traffic signal operations at over 700 intersections in 30 jurisdictions throughout the region through the OGL program. One of the main tasks of OGL is to update signal timings. With limited funding for infrastructure investment and the evolution of new technologies, many public sector agencies are looking to technology to improve traffic flow rather than adding lanes. 

16 video screens with the traffic intersection feeds of roads around the region
16 video screens with the traffic intersection feeds of roads around the region

Advanced traffic signal performance measures (ATSPMs) help agencies improve traffic flow and operations. Historically, collecting data for arterial network signal performance measures has been costly without significant investment in detection equipment. However, recent advancements in sensor technology, mobile data, communications networks, arterial performance measures research and computing power have created new opportunities for monitoring and understanding arterial network performance. To take advantage of these new data sources and software tools, MARC and OGL will enable partner agencies to improve the regional transportation network through data and performance measures. The first stage of the project will:

  • Develop requirements and evaluation criteria.
  • Evaluate various ATSPM solutions backed by proven data.
  • Develop an implementation plan for the preferred vendor.
  • Measure and report on impacts of signal performance measures. 

Real-time and historical traffic data powering signal performance measures will allow the region to prioritize signal retiming resources towards intersections and corridors with the greatest need.