Are red lights a conspiracy against you?

Traffic engineers claim they’re not working against you.

Some of the most common inquiries in the Road Warrior email inbox involve the timing of traffic signals.

How is it possible, some readers want to know, that our traffic lights are so screwed up?

A recent inquiry from Warrior reader Stu almost suggests a conspiracy at play.

“Why is it that the majority of traffic signals in Las Vegas are always red upon arrival?” Stu said. “You can go from one light to the next and they are red. If you maintain the speed limit, you still arrive on red. If the lights can be synchronized to be red, why can’t they be set so they are green more often?

“I read somewhere that they can set for green but the person responsible has to be willing to spend the time and have the proper equipment.”

Nothing personal, Stu, but I’m glad the lights are red for you because that means if you and I meet at an intersection, it’s green for me!

Sorry, Stu, I jest.

The person you refer to as responsible for the traffic lights is Brian Hoeft, director of FAST, the Freeway Arterial System of Transportation.

Hoeft leads a team of technicians that not only monitor traffic light cycles on many streets but the dynamic messaging signs, the ramp meters, the cameras and other equipment on Southern Nevada byways.

“The primary goal of FAST is to move millions of cars every day as safely and efficiently as possible throughout our community,” Hoeft said. “This means drivers may not hit every green light.

“Signals are timed based on traffic flow, time of day and location. Timing can be impacted by traffic volumes, speed limits and crosswalks. Each variable can impact the system, which creates the need for constant monitoring and adjusting.”

Hoeft may be exercising a little hyperbole — I doubt there are “millions of cars every day” — but you get the point. During busy commutes, there are lots of vehicles crossing each other’s paths and the only way to regulate that is to slow people down.

But the system isn’t perfect, so Hoeft invites the public to email questions about specific lights or signalized intersections.

“If drivers have a question, please provide as many details as possible about the issue and email FAST at askfast@rtcsnv.com and we will review the issue and make adjustments if necessary,” he said.

AIRPORT CONNECTOR PROJECT

Warrior reader Alice saw one of those message boards near the McCarran International Airport connector tunnel and wondered if there are some orange cones in the road’s future:

“I saw it as I entered the tunnel going north and it said to expect delays starting Aug. 3. Any idea what is going on or how long it will last?”

Brace yourself, Alice. It’s going to be a long project, although the early work shouldn’t affect traffic too much.

According to Clark County’s Erik Pappa, crews will begin blocking access to the George Crockett Road shoulder between Bermuda Road and the airport connector. Traffic-control barriers will be in place for two to three months while crews remove landscaping and complete drainage improvements with an underground stormwater pipe.

It’s all preparation for the two-year Airport Connector Phase 2 project featuring a flyover bridge that will carry exiting airport and airport bypass traffic over the top of Interstate 215 to eastbound I-215. The work includes widening the off ramp from eastbound I-215 to Warm Springs Road, a new bridge for that off ramp, and widening the bridge carrying westbound I-215 traffic over the connector.

There will be periodic lane closures and lane shifts along the way.

HIGHWAY EXIT NUMBERS

Are the U.S. Highway 95 exit numbers out of whack? Warrior reader Don thinks so:

“I was always taught that the highway exit designators were assigned the mile marker location they resided in. If that is the case, why is it that on U.S. Highway 95 on the north end of the valley, the Snow Mountain Exit 99 resides in the Milepost 95 mile, Horse Drive, Exit 95, in the 91 mile, and Durango Drive, Exit 93, is out of whack also? What gives?”

It would be easy to tell you that the Nevada Transportation Department is just messing with you, Don. But here’s the official response from the department’s Tony Illia:

“The intention is to match the exit numbers with the mile markers,” Illia said. “However, exits and interchanges are sometimes added after completion of an original thoroughfare, hence, the offset numbering. It’s simply too costly to go back through and renumber every exit along a state route once a new exit or interchange is introduced.

“Also, several businesses market themselves through freeway exit numbers; an abrupt change could prove devastating for commerce.”

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter @RJroadwarrior

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