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How underground sensors get you around WL faster

West Lafayette's Advanced Traffic Management System is more than what meets the eye.

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 6:55 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Underground sensors send data to traffic lights so you can get around the city faster.

"We're doing everything we can to make the city as convenient to everyone as possible," said City Engineer Ed Garrison. 

Cameras at busy intersections and underground sensors allow the West Lafayette Street Department to collect lots of information.

"Vehicle data, not only peak times but throughout the entire day. Pedestrian movements through all the intersections. Bicycle movements through all the intersections," explained Garrison. 

That information is not only studied long-term but it's communicated to other street lights in the area so you aren't constantly seeing red.

When this one is green, others are getting that information so as traffic flow passes, you can continue through multiple intersections without stopping. 

So, how do the underground sensors work?

"Is it the weight of that car?" asked one West Lafayette pedestrian. 

That's what most people think but it's actually magnetic. It detects the metal in the vehicle.

"One of the things we'd really like looking into moving forward is connected vehicle technology," said Garrison. 

That means the streetlight could communicate with the car.

"As a car comes up to the intersection, it can start telling that car this is going to turn green in seven seconds," explained Garrison. 

He isn't sure when we could see this new feature but they're working with Purdue and other donors to make it happen.

"It could be within six months, it could be within six years I'm not positive at this point," said Garrison. "All I know is what we've done with our controllers and our signals and our fiber interconnect, we have the technology available to integrate this when it's ready."

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