CDOT to test traffic signal priority system in valley throughout the next week
The Colorado Department of Transportation on Wednesday will test a new stoplight system designed to allow buses to get a head start on other vehicles, said the CEO of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
The traffic signal priority infrastructure is a key part of RFTA’s $46 million upgrade of the valley’s public transportation system, an overhaul called VelociRFTA that is aimed at cutting commute times and generally improving the passenger experience.
RFTA buses currently utilize passive signals at Highway 82’s intersections with Brush Creek Road and Highway 133, said CEO Dan Blankenship on Friday. The devices detect buses approaching and keep the lights green for a longer period of time. And red lights turn green faster when a bus is approaching, he said.
The system that CDOT will test at four intersections in the midvalley next week takes a more active approach in that the traffic lights for dedicated bus lanes will turn green before the other lights for regular traffic.
It allows buses “to get a bit of a jump on traffic through the intersection,” Blankenship said.
The passive system is not recognizing every bus, a glitch that RFTA is working to fix.
The “transit signal priority” scheme is one of the last pieces of the massive upgrade, which saw new bus stops, park-and-ride lots, ticket vending machines, and technology like electronic signs and a smart phone app that allows people waiting at stops to know where their bus is and when it’s arriving.
Another amenity, sparked by a few complaints, could be installed at the new bus stops, Blankenship said. Depending on how much money is left over after VelociRFTA is completed next year, the agency may put in baffles at the ends of the bus stations as buffers against the wind.
Riders have told RFTA that the new, open-ended stops are cold and drafty.
“In the spring, summer and fall, a breeze is a good thing,” Blankenship said. “But in the winter, the stations are open to gusts of wind.”
There also could be a heating source to help ward off the wind “whistling through the station,” he said.
The money for such items — “things we didn’t think we had the budget for when we began the project,” Blankenship said — would come from unallocated contingency funds.
He said the ticket machines are up and running, though money can get jammed in them. RFTA staffers get alerts about such situations, and also when the machines are running low on coins and tickets, and respond by either giving a person their money back or their ticket.
In other RFTA news, Blankenship said the delayed new bus stops and pedestrian underpass at the Aspen Airport Business Center are expected to be completed by Christmas. Originally scheduled to be completed by the end of November, the $5.4 million project fell behind because the contractor, Flatiron Construction, encountered management issues, officials have said.
Landscaping and a few other items at the stops will likely be finished in the springtime.