Cameras track Cedar Park's traffic

When a traffic light turns red, yellow or green in Cedar Park, it is guided by on-site cameras and engineers at the city's Traffic Management Center.

Each of Cedar Park's 51 intersections follows signal schedules preprogrammed by traffic engineers. Cameras transmit live feeds back to the center where computer software counts vehicles and tracks speeds, all to make traffic flow smoothly.

Engineers can watch the camera feeds, occasionally adjust signal timing based on traffic conditions and check reported problems, said Eric Rauschuber, Cedar Park director of utilities.

"The intersections don't communicate with each other," Rauschuber said. "The intersection controls itself based on preset parameters, but we can make adjustments to those controls."

Specific signal-timing schedules help regulate influxes of traffic throughout the day, Rauschuber said.

"We use coordinated plans in the a.m. and p.m. to try to get platoons of cars to stay together in one line," Rauschuber said. "When you're in the platoon, the likelihood of you hitting the next green is much greater in a coordinated plan."

Signals often work independently overnight or during other low-traffic periods, Senior Traffic Engineer Ali Mozdbar said.

"We just let them run free, first-come, first-served," Mozdbar said.

System upgrade

Many large cities have similar video-detection systems, Rauschuber said. The technology was developed in the early 1990s based on military technology used to spot tanks.

Cedar Park's first signaled intersection at Cypress Creek Road and Lakeline Boulevard had an older inductive-loop system. Still used in some cities, those systems rely on signals sent to the light from wires under the pavement.

Now all of Cedar Park's intersections use video detection.

Maintenance

Occasionally technicians must go out to the signals for repairs. Signal boxes use weather-hardened components, but cables inside them or the cameras can decay.

Signals may be hit with power failures or electrical shorts, which prompts flashing red lights on the signals and red circles on the engineers' screens. Recently a camera at Anderson Mill Road and West Whitestone Boulevard was not recognizing cars, and the signals were stuck in one programmed phase, Mozdbar said. Technicians repaired the camera.

Testing

Engineers test signal timing using computer models of vehicles in the city, but real drivers behave differently, Rauschuber said. Traffic engineers must either drive the roads themselves or watch vehicles on-camera to see how they respond to new traffic light schedules. Then they make changes to the model, he said.

Large public events, accidents and road projects also warrant manual changes to signal schedules, Mozdbar said.

Upcoming changes

Rauschuber said engineers are planning to change signal timing on East Whitestone Boulevard after Cedar Park's newest signaled intersection comes online at Whitestone and Market Street near the new Walmart.

Mozdbar said advances in the city's technology could allow signal-control programs to anticipate recurring special events or higher traffic during different times of the year. The city could also send traffic notifications to roadside signs or to drivers' phones, Mozdbar said.

Rauschuber said he regularly makes notes of needed signal upgrades when he is driving in Cedar Park.

"My kids will laugh at me cause I'll pull over and start writing something down if I see something," Rauschuber said. "It's fun, unless you're my kids."

SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

(Courtesy Casamigos)
Casamigos Tex-Mex plans to open in Leander by Nov. 22

Casamigos Tex-Mex plans to be open by Nov. 22, according to restaurant owner Christoper Rodriguez.

The Bell Boulevard realignment project will relocate the stretch of Bell Boulevard between Buttercup Creek Boulevard and Cedar Park Drive to the alignment of Old Highway 183. (Marisa Charpentier/Community Impact Newspaper)
Cedar Park moves forward with Bell Boulevard realignment utility relocation

The Bell Boulevard realignment project in Cedar Park is going to require a substantial utility relocation.

Greg Kelley, a former Leander High School student whose 2014 conviction was recently overturned, told members of the press after the Cedar Park City Council meeting Nov. 14 that he wants the Cedar Park police chief and sergeant who worked on his case to be held accountable for what happened to him. (Marisa Charpentier/Community Impact Newspaper.
Greg Kelley supporters address Cedar Park City Council, call for police department accountability

After his conviction was overturned Nov. 6, Greg Kelley and his supporters attended a Cedar Park City Council meeting Nov. 14.

Lady Bird Lake at Congress Avenue in Austin. Since late July, parts of the lake have been off limits due to high concentrations of toxic "blue-green" algae. (Courtesy Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Toxic algae blooms are becoming more common, scientists say

Months have passed, but the capital city still has signs up warning of ongoing dangerous conditions in Lady Bird Lake.

Driver's Edge Complete Tire and Auto Service, at 3510 Lakeline Blvd., Leander, is now Lamb's Tire and Automotive. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Leander vehicle service business changes name to Lamb's Tire and Auto

Driver's Edge Complete Tire and Auto Service, at 3510 Lakeline Blvd., Leander, is now Lamb's Tire and Automotive

Crews work on updating a section of I-35 in Central Texas (Courtesy TxDOT)
Central Texas transportation agencies investing millions in I-35 for new lanes, intersection improvements aimed at aiding mobility

About 20 miles of I-35 through Central Texas will see an infusion of $400 million in state and federal funding to add one to two additional lanes in an effort to improve mobility.

Savvy Chix Studio offers sewing classes for kids and adults. (Courtesy Savvy Chix Studio)
Savvy Chix Studio now offering sewing classes in Leander area

Savvy Chix Studio opened in Leander on Oct. 30.

Leander Middle School Principal Mark Koller is pictured in the LMS dance studio in this August file photo. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Koller hired as principal at new Danielson Middle School

The Leander ISD board of trustees has hired Mark Koller as the first principal at Danielson Middle School.

Deece Eckstein at the Nov. 12 Travis County Commissioners Court meeting
Travis County intergovernmental relations officer announces retirement, triggers "aggressive" hiring schedule

Deece Eckstein, Travis County's inaugural intergovernmental relations officer, will retire at the end of the year.

Collectors Crossroads is opening in the Lakeline Plaza Shopping Center on Nov. 22. (Courtesy Collectors Crossroads)
Pinballz owner to open collectibles shop in Lakeline Plaza

Collectors Crossroads is opening in the Lakeline Plaza Shopping Center on Nov. 22.

MaidPro North Austin is now located in the Silver Spur Business Park in Cedar Park. (Marisa Charpentier/Community Impact Newspaper)
MaidPro North Austin relocates from Leander to Cedar Park

MaidPro North Austin is a professional home cleaning service.

Back to top