New cameras could lessen the congestion of Lexington traffic

By Kenneil Mitchell

A typical morning commute for Lexington drivers.

For such a little county, Lexington has major city traffic. Lexington County traffic officials have installed new traffic cameras to reduce congestion for drivers navigating rush hour.

Lexington County Police Chief Terrence Green drove through U.S. Route 1 and immediately noticed the difference the cameras made when he paused behind a car and the light turned green right away.

“It read that, hey we got people at this light, we need to let these people come across,” Greene said. “The other system, you would sit here two to five minutes before you’d get the green light.”

Greene says the cameras give him more time to respond to emergencies.

“This has knocked a lot of time off our response time, which is keeping our response time under 10 minutes right now,” Greene said. “This system helps out with trying to move the traffic freely and flowing through the town.”

Steve MacDougall is the mayor of Lexington.

Steve MacDougall, Lexington mayor and general manager of Hudson’s Smokehouse, says it took two years to get the cameras working at the intersections.

He worked with the Lexington County Transportation Division for weeks to test the strength of the cameras by leaving them on only to monitor the traffic and count the cars.

MacDougall says the cameras didn’t control the signals during that period, in order to see if the cameras reduced traffic without it.

“We did that for two weeks and then we turned the system back on,” MacDougall said. “Once we turned it back on, we saw a 20 percent reduction of traffic congestion.”

This reduction results in drivers saving five minutes on the road. The new system was not paid for by the Lexington citizens, but from other sources.

“We got funds from the Council of Governments, which issues funds for traffic improvement,” MacDougall said. “We got some through funds through the county, and we pitched in as a town and put some money up as well.”

MacDougall says he’s proud of the results and hopes to make history with the cameras.

Lexington officials plan to install new traffic cameras in all intersections.

“Once we have all the cameras installed throughout town, we’ll be the first city in America with every traffic light tied together, talking to each other, eliminating traffic congestion,” MacDougall said.

The Lexington Transportation Division has created two phases for the adaptive system of the traffic cameras. Phase 1 is already completed, with 19 intersections having functional cameras. Phase 2 includes 16 intersections being installed, which traffic officials state will be completed by the end of 2018.

Randy Edwards, Lexington transportation director, works with the Lexington traffic committee to keep the cameras functional. He explains the system as a means to provide a green pathway for cars to move more efficiently on the road.

Randy Edwards is the Lexington director of transportation.

“We have pre-programmed alignments that essentially will be green for that higher volume of traffic,” Edwards said. “It does provide some better free flow through the town itself when you’re pushing that additional doubling the volume of your normal, daily traffic.”

His mission is to make the cameras adapt to traffic to make the technology more natural.

“It operates a lot the way you and I would think,” Edward said. “Like, hey, there’s not many cars coming, why can’t I go? And so the cameras detect, sense how long you’ve been there and then will shut down when it’s appropriate.”

Terrence Green is the police chief in Lexington.

Green says he’s very proud of the cameras as he believes the technology helps move cars in a timely fashion.

“To use technology in a way to help our citizens, but people who are just traveling through our city, is, I think it’s great,” he said.

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