Drivers in Davenport may spend less time waiting at red lights soon.

A centralized traffic-control system for two of Davenport’s highly traveled corridors should provide better timing for drivers and a better use of time for city workers.

Better-timed signals that allow for less idling could decrease emissions from vehicles by 15 percent. For city staff, such a system lets them better monitor traffic signals for maintenance issues and adjust signal timing based on traffic needs.

“If the signals are all timed together and stay in sync, it would reduce emissions,” Davenport traffic engineer Gary Statz said. “The stopping and starting cause a lot of the emissions.”

City workers receive a signal after someone calls about a problem, but often it turns out to be a wild goose chase. The new systems would allow them to check first from Public Works offices on Tremont Avenue in north Davenport.

“It comes in handy to see what is going on out there without having to go out,” Statz said. “We get a call and go out, and everything is fine.”

Installation of new signals, conduits, cameras and fiber-optic cable for 53rd Street and Locust Street are expected to begin this summer. The Davenport City Council approved a resolution Wednesday supporting a grant application to Iowa Department of Transportation’s Iowa Clean Air Attainment Program for $248,000 for Kimberly Road. If the grant is approved, work would be done next year.

Grants from the clean air attainment program would provide for 80 percent of the project, with the city paying for the remaining 20 percent. The total cost of the Locust Street project is $400,000, while the total cost for 53rd Street is $304,000.

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The 53rd Street project comes in costing less because a number of signals east of Elmore Avenue were replaced during the state modification of the Interstate 74 on-ramps and widening of 53rd Street.

When all three projects are completed, almost half of the city’s 163 signaled intersections will be centralized. The city is also seeking a grant from the same program for software that will allow the city to create a central traffic center at Public Works. The cost of that project is $350,000.

West Des Moines and Dubuque are two Iowa cities that have similar systems. West Des Moines has operated a centralized system for about 10 years.

Jim Dickinson, West Des Moines’ traffic engineer, said the system provides a maintenance report, and is also helpful when an incident on Interstates 80 and 35 causes traffic to be rerouted through the city. He wouldn’t want to go back to a time before centralized control.

“We can run different timing plans on different corridors and watch what the controllers are doing, watch traffic flows from the comfort of being indoors,” Dickinson said.

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