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Author Topic: Which state has the best traffic signals?  (Read 675 times)

Amtrakprod

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Which state has the best traffic signals?
« on: July 17, 2018, 06:06:16 AM »

I'm not sure how I do polls, but which state has the best signals?
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 07:06:30 AM »

Michigan, specifically metro Detroit, knows how to time their signals really well; you can go 20 miles through constant green lights on several roads in the area.

If you're referring to traffic signal models, I have no idea.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2018, 11:36:43 AM »

Yeah, I think you need to clarify your question a bit.  Best as in position, traffic flow, style, etc?
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Amtrakprod

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2018, 11:50:19 AM »

Yeah, I think you need to clarify your question a bit.  Best as in position, traffic flow, style, etc?
Style, like rareness of the signals.


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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2018, 12:30:49 PM »

Yeah, I think you need to clarify your question a bit.  Best as in position, traffic flow, style, etc?
Style, like rareness of the signals.

That type of thing tends to be discussed extensively in the Traffic Control Board.

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2018, 04:09:17 PM »

For timing, the winner is Michigan and MDOT.
For layout and number of signals, I'll hand it to Illinois and IDOT.
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2018, 06:14:46 PM »

For timing, the winner is Michigan and MDOT.
For layout and number of signals, I'll hand it to Illinois and IDOT.
I agree that Illinois is the best. And it's neighbors to the north are the worst until they came out with the new setup 10 years ago.
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roadman65

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2018, 07:05:25 PM »

I can tell you what state does not have the best!  However, California and IL have the best with side mounts in addition to the standard overhead installation making it easy to see the signal when a large truck is ahead of you.  Add NJ to those and for left turn signals and permissive lefts, you have a second signal head on the far left corner which many states do not have as the MUTCD states that it is not needed.

I believe NYC and Delaware use two left turn signal heads as well on single lane pockets for both permissive and protected left turns.

NJ though did have great signaling for straight through signals on state divided highways like CA and IL have, but now that NJ is conforming to the one head per lane requirement all the extra mast arms and side mounts have been replaced with standard monotube mast arms just like PA has to the west of it.  At some intersections today, you can still  see up to seven mast arms at one intersection due to some extending from the median, both near and far side of the intersection and even double arm assemblies, but I imagine those will be standardized with one long arm on the far side as well. 
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Sheryl Crowe

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2018, 07:37:12 PM »

With the ground poles instead of mast-arms (except the trombone) Wisconsin would have won - until 5 years ago (ish) when they adopted the use of mast arms on multi-lane state funded roads.

also... Moving to Traffic Control.
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roadman65

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2018, 07:45:44 PM »

With the ground poles instead of mast-arms (except the trombone) Wisconsin would have won - until 5 years ago (ish) when they adopted the use of mast arms on multi-lane state funded roads.

also... Moving to Traffic Control.
Yes.  I remember, it used only one overhead signal head while the rest were side mounted.  Some in Milwaukee and Racine were all on street corners with no overheads which were cool.

Don't forget DC had side mounts for years too!
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2018, 07:51:11 PM »

Yeah, I think you need to clarify your question a bit.  Best as in position, traffic flow, style, etc?
Style, like rareness of the signals.


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THIS ANSWER IS PROBABLY IDIOSYNCRATIC AND NOT A TYPICAL ROADGEEK RESPONSE:

I don't think it's statewide, but Longmeadow, Mass. has some stylish lights. They're at the corner of the intersection; not overhead. I think it fits in well with the towns ritzy-suburb appearance. HOWEVER, I don't think it's that safe for out-of-towners. The first time I drove there some 30 years ago, I almost ran a red because I didn't see it.
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2018, 08:52:02 PM »

Of the states I've driven in and had to obey stoplights, by far the best is my home state of Illinois.  There are always multiple signals for every movement.  There are mast arms and far left signals.  Many intersections have stop bar signals.  Outside of Chicago, left turn lanes without turning arrows are quite rare.  Spanwires are rare.  And I personally prefer 5 sections over doghouses, of which there are only two I know of in Illinois:  one in Naperville, the other in Calumet City, which is actually an Indiana installation on the state line. 

Speaking of Indiana, they're awful.  Badly timed, lacks signals, among other things.  Heaven help you if you're approaching a light behind a truck.  Try driving southbound on a sunny afternoon where the sun makes the only signals very tough to see.  If a bulb burns out while making a left on a single signal, you're screwed.  And way too often does no left turn arrow exist at all.  Indiana isn't the only state with these issues, but it's the one I'm most familiar with. 

For styles, I really don't like Kentucky's lights.  the full visors of the yellows look silly when the reds and greens only have halves.
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traffic light guy

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2018, 08:52:09 PM »

Alabama has the best signals when it comes to models (Several intersections down there have Bull's eyes, there is even a setup with a Marebelite doghouse!). I'm a bit biased towards Pennsylvania's signals, since I live there, but their old setups are pretty unique (Especially with what they did during the 1960s & 70s, with the curved brackets and bent mast-arms). New Jersey's major cities have some goodies, a few locations have GE streamlines and 4-ways. Michigan....I'm not really a fan of, every single intersection has Durasigs, I hate when there's no diversity in signal models. Virginia also has some goodies, just like Alabama, most of their signals are oldheads on spanwires. PA and New Jersey seem to be the only states that are predominantly mast-mounted. Matter a fact, I don't think Jersey ever used wires. Delaware's signals are alright, their old signals are pretty decent, with their 12-8-8 Eagles. 
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roadman65

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2018, 08:59:46 PM »

Alabama has the best signals when it comes to models (Several intersections down there have Bull's eyes, there is even a setup with a Marebelite doghouse!). I'm a bit biased towards Pennsylvania's signals, since I live there, but their old setups are pretty unique (Especially with what they did during the 1960s & 70s, with the curved brackets and bent mast-arms). New Jersey's major cities have some goodies, a few locations have GE streamlines and 4-ways. Michigan....I'm not really a fan of, every single intersection has Durasigs, I hate when there's no diversity in signal models. Virginia also has some goodies, just like Alabama, most of their signals are oldheads on spanwires. PA and New Jersey seem to be the only states that are predominantly mast-mounted. Matter a fact, I don't think Jersey ever used wires. Delaware's signals are alright, their old signals are pretty decent, with their 12-8-8 Eagles. 
Burlington County used to use span wires up until the late 80's.  Long Beach Island, pretty much uses them from one end of Long Beach Blvd. to the other.

Speaking of WI using mostly side mounts, here along NJ 82 in Downtown Union is one intersection where there is only one overhead signal head.  The intersection, despite not being MUTCD, is still covering the angles pretty good with the one overhead, and the two side mounts.  As one is in the middle and the other to the right side, all signal heads are more than the required 40 feet from the stop bar thus keeping all visible and well within the cone of view of the driver.  In fact with a semi in front this coverage is much better than the typical overhead mounts with the two signal heads just 20 feet apart.
https://goo.gl/maps/rD7LXF8VpFo
« Last Edit: July 17, 2018, 09:16:03 PM by roadman65 »
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Sheryl Crowe

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2018, 03:15:31 AM »

California has an insulting lack of permissive left turns. Otherwise, fantastic signal placement. Virtually all new installations have near-side, far right, and far left repeaters, in addition to at least two signals overhead (one through, one turn if applicable). They don't do the whole "signal per lane" placement style, which I'm not a fan of anyway. If more FYA's popped up, especially on state highways, they'd quickly become one of my favorite states.

Nevada is quite good for similar reasons, plus they use far more permissive left turns. So, in a way, perhaps I prefer Nevada. Though they use the "signal per lane" placement style, which I'm not a gigantic fan of.

Wisconsin was fantastic for permissive left turns, and plenty of pole-mounted signals, placed both near and far. Virtually none of their installations had far right pole signals, though, which always bothered me. New installations have just as many permissive lefts (including a few double permissive lefts--COOL!), but not nearly as many pole-mounted signals. Oh well.

I quite like Illinois' signal placement, though I wish all intersections had far-right pole signals. Kudos for all the near-side signals, and stringent requirements for X-number of signals per movement.

Minnesota reminds me a lot of Nevada and Arizona; I particularly like their unique mast arms. Props for TOD permissive double left turns.

Couldn't say which state has the best timing. I haven't spent enough time driving in the Midwest or East Coast to have an opinion. Tucson seems to be on top of it, as far as cities that I've driven in. Federal Way, a city quite close to me, uses a lot of FYA's with lead/lag signals. Driving through the city just about any time of day is a breeze. They are really on top of timing.
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roadman65

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2018, 10:24:21 PM »

New Jersey used to when I lived there on their state highways.  It was a bitch to cross them as NJDOT allowed long greens for the highways even at off peak hours, but it made it where driving down US 1 and US 22 would have you make quite a few lights.

However in 2012, I noticed that US 206 between Hillsborough and Princeton were not timed at all good and got stopped at nearly all of them, which is why I say "when I live there."

NYC on the Avenues you can maintain several blocks of non stop as the cross town travel pays big for that, but despite NYC not using digital signaling equipment and strictly timers, they do a great job.
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2018, 02:18:46 AM »

Anyone who's tired of me talking about the rare double-left yield, glaze over this post.



Wanted to give an honourable mention to Colorado for not prohibiting double left turn yields. They seem to be the only state in the nation which has widely adopted this programming style. Some states, such as Minnesota and I think Wisconsin, have started to adopt this, but most only operate based on the time of day (i.e. late at night). Not in Colorado. They operate 24/7, which I think makes more sense, as it allows all drivers, regardless of when they're out, to familiarize themselves with the signal (since it's rather unique, and most CO drivers might only encounter one for every 20 miles driven).

Most of the state (some old signals excepted) also has extremely good signal placement (always secondary signals on left and right side, sometimes near side), and they also install signals on the poles without backplates, which I think makes the whole installation less bulky. Though I certainly understand the merit behind backplates on all signals, regardless of position.
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roadman65

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2018, 11:47:35 PM »

Hey, what is up with both Texas and North Carolina using two reds for protected left turns?

I actually as a kid thought that NC was cool with them, and considered it to be the best next to my homestate's many different designs.

Texas I did not go to until 1997 to witness their ways, but other than the two left turn reds, I will say each metro area in Texas is unique.  You have Houston using black signal heads, while Fort Worth and San Antonio use standard vertical heads (as most of the Lone Star State use horizontal mounts).
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2018, 05:49:44 PM »

Best:

+ States that use black-painted signals (or at least black doors/visors) with yellow-border retroflective backplates -- The first place I saw this was Ohio, but I've seen such signals in Indiana, Florida, Illinois, and South Dakota

+ States that use supplemental side mounted signals on the near and far side of the intersection -- Illinois is best in show in this regard. California is a close 2nd because Illinois is better about having more overhead signals per approach.

+ States that have overhead signals for each lane -- Virginia used to be the best in this regard and is still better than many

Worst:

- States with confusing setups -- Wisconsin with its past practice of one horizontal overhead signal and a million side mounted signals per intersection.

- States with too few signals per intersection -- Maryland will usually have only two through signals no matter how many through lanes in the approach, though, they're good about supplemental protected turn signals.

- States with yellow-painted signals and yellow-border retroreflective backplates -- Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia...
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jakeroot

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2018, 08:13:34 PM »

Worst:

- States with confusing setups -- Wisconsin with its past practice of one horizontal overhead signal and a million side mounted signals per intersection.

I don't know if that's being fair to Wisconsin. At least they're considering the use of post mounted signals, which is a fair bit more consideration than most states give. I've never driven in Wisconsin, but from what I've seen, their intersections don't seem particularly confusing.
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2018, 09:36:31 PM »

Of the states I've driven in and had to obey stoplights, by far the best is my home state of Illinois.  There are always multiple signals for every movement.  There are mast arms and far left signals.  Many intersections have stop bar signals.  Outside of Chicago, left turn lanes without turning arrows are quite rare.  Spanwires are rare.  And I personally prefer 5 sections over doghouses, of which there are only two I know of in Illinois:  one in Naperville, the other in Calumet City, which is actually an Indiana installation on the state line.
I’m assuming by span wire, you mean signals held up by a Strand (common in IN) instead of mounted to a Mast Arm (common in IL)?

There is a Strand-mount with 5 Section Towers on US 51 in Du Quoin, IL @ Howellman Dr

I do think that is goofy. Extension bars on the standard 3 section signal so the lower support strand is more even across, to match the taller 5 section tower
https://goo.gl/maps/MfBQjFDSP1J2
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2018, 09:59:17 PM »

I’m assuming by span wire, you mean signals held up by a Strand (common in IN) instead of mounted to a Mast Arm (common in IL)?

It's a wire that spans the road: span wire. I've never heard of calling it a "strand" before.

And since we're on the subject: I hate permanent span wire installations. IMO, they're eyesores, so any state that uses them on a permanent basis is disqualified from being the best, regardless of other qualities.
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Revive 755

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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2018, 10:06:43 PM »



I do think that is goofy. Extension bars on the standard 3 section signal so the lower support strand is more even across, to match the taller 5 section tower
https://goo.gl/maps/MfBQjFDSP1J2

Looks a lot like an Indiana design with the third cable and triangular 'hangers' above the heads

There is also a permanent span wire installation with metal poles on NB IL 29 in Peoria


When it comes to Illinois, there should be a distinction between districts for best signals.  Some of the large Chicagoland District (D-1) intersections are pretty lacking on heads.  Compare IL 38 at Randall Road to IL 47 at US 34 in District 3 (Ottawa) or IL 29/Dirksen Parkway at Clear Lake Avenue in District 6 (Springfield).
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2018, 10:48:52 PM »

I’m assuming by span wire, you mean signals held up by a Strand (common in IN) instead of mounted to a Mast Arm (common in IL)?

It's a wire that spans the road: span wire. I've never heard of calling it a "strand" before.
Got the lingo down

In Telecom Outside Plant (where I am employed), the heavy gauge Steel support wire that holds up telecom cables between poles (fiber, coax, copper, etc) is called the “strand.”

A Span Wire Signal uses very similar support wire to support the signals.

But different industry (Transportation vs Telecom), different terminology. I can handle that
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Re: Which state has the best traffic signals?
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2018, 10:52:44 PM »

I’m assuming by span wire, you mean signals held up by a Strand (common in IN) instead of mounted to a Mast Arm (common in IL)?
It's a wire that spans the road: span wire. I've never heard of calling it a "strand" before.
Got the lingo down

In Telecom Outside Plant (where I am employed), the heavy gauge Steel support wire that holds up telecom cables between poles (fiber, coax, copper, etc) is called the “strand.”

A Span Wire Signal uses very similar support wire to support the signals.

But different industry (Transportation vs Telecom), different terminology. I can handle that

I don't even know if "span wire" is the correct industry term. That's just the term I learned here on this forum/the term everyone else seems to use here. :)
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