"Smart" traffic lights hope to improve congestion along West Catawba Avenue

Changes are being made to a busy road in Cornelius to improve traffic flow, but there isn’t any construction planned. 

Drivers may have noticed cameras on top of the traffic lights along West Catawba Avenue. North Carolina Department of Transportation tells FOX 46 Charlotte they are there to monitor traffic flow because later this month the timing of the traffic lights will change.

For years traffic along West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius has caused major headaches for drivers.

“I mean it’s awful,” said one driver.

Changes have been made before in an effort to get drivers down quicker and more efficiently. 

Now changes are being made again one again, but this time with the help of new technology.

Cameras have been installed up and down West Catawba Avenue at every intersection from Highway 21 to Jetton Road. They will monitor traffic flow, turning lights green for only the amount of time traffic needs to move.

The company behind this project says the traffic signals will no longer be timed. Radio transmitters have also been installed, so each traffic light can sync with one another based on how heavy traffic is.
As for if this plan will work, the verdict is still out among drivers.

“I really don’t know. I think the road needs to be wider. We need more lanes. I don’t think just keeping it the two lanes on each side all the way down helps,” said driver, Tara Black.

The project is a joint effort between the Town of Cornelius, NCDOT and an engineering firm. 

The technology is installed, but NCDOT officials say it won’t be operational until the end of this month.