Plano staff are overseeing a project to replace more than 240 traffic signal cabinets, which are used to control traffic lights at nearly 300 intersections in the city.

Plano City Council approved the $1.4 million purchase of upgraded controller hardware and software for all of the city’s traffic signal cabinets, which includes those for eight new signalized intersections, during its June 24 meeting. Funding comes from the fiscal year 2023-24 street improvements portion of the Community Investment Program.

Two-minute impact

Traffic signal cabinets throughout the city are between 12 and 20 years old, according to city documents. Transportation Engineering Manager Brian Shewski said that switching to new software, MaxTime by Norway-based transportation technology company Q-Free, will save the city around $100,000 in wireless control fees.

The cabinets help control the various timing or actuation—a control pattern that maintains a green light for the busiest traffic but gives green when a vehicle approaches from a different direction—plans programmed for the city’s traffic signals. Shewski said a lot of the equipment and control programs have become outdated since their implementation.

“There's been huge advancements in computer speeds and computer capacities in programming,” Shewski said. “We're still operating with a 2005 computer [program,] which is called traffic signal controller.”

Why it matters

Shewski said the upgrades will allow for a host of other infrastructure improvements for managing the city’s traffic signals, including:
  • Enhanced traffic signal timing capabilities and flexibility
  • The implementation of automated performance measures
  • Supporting the deployment of advanced traffic signal controller cabinets
  • Providing a platform for future implementation of connected vehicle applications, transit signal priority and traffic responsive signal operation
Traffic management staff and the traffic signal cabinets both use the video as part of their operations. As part of a separate project, 160 intersections will have cameras added atop traffic signals to bring the total to over 200 throughout the city.

“The fiber system will allow us to not only communicate without these [wireless control] fees, but also provide much more throughput with the [CCTV] video,” Shewski said.

Looking ahead

Traffic management staff are currently testing the new signal cabinets within the city’s traffic management center.

City officials also expect the new cabinets to support other technology rollouts, namely more advanced vehicle detection systems, such as radar.