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UPDATE: Synchronized traffic lights in Fresno would be wonderful

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Update: Last week I moaned about unsynchronized traffic lights in Fresno, and some readers joined me here on the Beehive and on Facebook. Other commenters mentioned the new Shaw Avenue synchronized plan. In this story, KVPR’s Ezra Romero takes a look at the project.

Original post: Via KVPR’s  Ezra Romero on Twitter, the New York Times takes a look at Los Angeles’ new synchronized traffic light system:

In the latest ambitious and costly assault on gridlock, Los Angeles has synchronized every one of its 4,500 traffic signals across 469 square miles — the first major metropolis in the world to do so, officials said — raising the almost fantastical prospect, in theory, of driving Western Avenue from the Hollywood Hills to the San Pedro waterfront without stopping once.

But with the number of cars on the road here continuing to rise (and almost seven million commuters already on the road each day during the rush in the metro area), even the system’s boosters admit that it may not be enough to prevent gridlock from growing worse.

Even though synchronized lights might not be a fix-all, I can only dream of Fresno giving it a try. (Considering that the L.A. system cost $400 million, I’m not holding my breath.) There are two stretches of road in which I find myself most often lurching from one red light to the next:

Shaw Avenue in front of Fashion Fair. I have expressed at various times of my life a remarkable degree of hostility toward the traffic signal at N. Angus St. It’s like continually bumping into an ex-friend I hate to see. I stop almost every time to offer a strained hello.

Van Ness Avenue downtown. It’s as if the stretch between Ventura Street and Stanislaus Street is “anti-synchronized,” purposefully making cars stop at each and every light. Ah, the time I’ve wasted, especially at night on empty streets, waiting for each green.

Responses to "UPDATE: Synchronized traffic lights in Fresno would be wonderful"

Stephen says:

Years ago, Chris Mathys (City Councilmember) tried to effort that same thing. His argument made sense and would totally help Fresno and on at least the main roads, wouldn’t cost nearly 400 million, if anything.

As I recall (and I could be mistaken), this is when the FPD really started their revenue enhancement through traffic enforcement (that part I’m not mistaken about), and the FPD/Chief Dyer put an immediate kibosh on the idea of synchronized traffic lights. I seem to think their argument was people would totally speed and cause more accidents.

I’m with you, Donald. People who speed will end up at red lights – the lights will be synchronized for the speed limit.

Mathys is the one who got the underpass at Shaw and Marks-ish built so people didn’t have to stop at the railroad tracks all the time. Not that I liked the guy, I didn’t, but those ideas? Loved.

RACHEL says:


Bob says:

People who complain about traffic in Fresno are ridiculous. It’s 20 minutes max to anywhere in town.

JJJ says:

Bob, that doesnt mean that sitting at a light for 2 minutes with not a single other car in sight is acceptable. Its a waste of time and gas.

JJJ says:

I believe synchronizing Shaw and Herndon is an ongoing project, although the Measure C website disagrees and says its not funded.

Id give the traffic people a call, because I know its been on the books for many years.

Paul says:

Yes…I have been waiting for synchronized lights for years!!! It’s not just Shaw and Van Ness, it’s the whole city!!!! If taxes need to go up to pay for it, so be it. It’s certainly a better alternative to the gas we waste. I will vote for any candidate that is for synchronized lights (and will do something about it).

Woody Turgid says:

Man are you people behind the times. A good number of Fresno drivers solved the non-synchronized traffic light problem years ago. Whenever they encounter a red light, they simply run it.

jr says:

Many years ago, Mayor Dan Whitehurst promised his radio audience on KMJ that he would try to synchronize the lights on First Street. He did it. But it didn’t last long, because many intersections needed the erratic left turn lights. And as much as you complain about the lights on East Shaw, try driving along West Shaw where you can get stopped by every single light between Blackstone and Valentine!!

datacruncher says:

The Bee reported back on October 27, 2011:
“The Council of Fresno County Governments has been allocated $2.1 million for a traffic light synchronization program on Shaw Avenue in Fresno. The program is designed to decrease delays and travel times during peak commute hours.”

Additionally there was this presentation a couple of years ago by the city traffic engineer showing which streets had been synchronized and which ones would be before 2015.

Stephen says:

two. point. one. MILLION!??!

For WHAT!??!?!

I am no engineer. But I could probably play hit and miss for 3 weeks on the Shaw lights and get it down pretty well, and I’ll do it for just $200 grand!

2.1 Million to sync up one street?? I’d love to see where that money goes.

On second thought….

DMcG says:

Synchronized lights actually reduce speeding, since you have to travel at the syncho speed (usually just under the limit) to actually hit the green lights one after another. Old time Fresno residents may remember certain north-south streets were set for 37 mph in the age before left-turn signals. That worked well. My West Avenue commute in the ’70′s and early’80s never involved a stop from Shaw to Olive.

These days, you can enjoy coordinated signals on Herndon from about Fresno to about Chestnut or Willow. Since I seldom drive that stretch, it doesn’t do much for me, but it’s there. Still, it would be nice to have a fully-coordinated system like LA plans.

Stephen says:


To. Do. WHAT?!!?!?

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