Atlanta advancing its effort to synchronize traffic signals

By David Pendered

Atlanta is moving forward with plans to synchronize traffic signals as part of its effort to improve the flow of vehicles along key corridors.

In all, upwards of 100 traffic signals are to be improved through Renew Atlanta, the city’s $250 million infrastructure program. The effort represents the first comprehensive update to the city’s traffic signals in more than two decades.

traffic signals

Atlanta is implementing its plan to synchronize traffic signals for the first time. In all, some 100 intersections are to be upgraded with synchronization or other upgrades. Credit: David Pendered

The current project involves the stretching of fiber optic cables across CSX railroad lines in four locations in the city. The program is part of the city’s Traffic Communication Corridor Project.

The Atlanta City Council’s Utilities Committee is slated to discuss the proposals at its meeting Tuesday. Here are the locations:

  • Boulevard SE, over the CSX railroad;
  • Marietta Boulevard at Tacoma Drive, over the CSX railroad;
  • West Marietta Street at Marietta Boulevard, over the CSX railroad;
  • West Marietta Street at Brady Avenue, over the CSX railroad.

Terms call for the city to pay an application fee of $500 to CSX for each location. That’s because the cable will encroach onto the CSX tracks. The deals call for the city to install and maintain the aerial fiber optic cable.

Renew Atlanta is the infrastructure program approved by Atlanta voters in 2015.

The second-largest line item in the program involves upgrades to the city’s traffic signals. The program is to receive 16.2 percent of the budget, second only to the 28.5 percent earmarked for road improvements.

This fund is in addition to the $300 million voters approved for transportation improvements in the form of an additional sales tax for transportation.

Traffic signals throughout Atlanta are to be upgraded with funds from the $250 million bond Atlanta voters approved. Credit: Atlanta

Traffic signals throughout Atlanta are to be upgraded with funds from the $250 million bond Atlanta voters approved. Credit: Atlanta

In all, the Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond program is to fix roads and bridges; build more than 30 miles of streets with ample sidewalks, medians and street furniture; and synchronize traffic signals, according to a report on Renew Atlanta’s website.

The last major update of the city’s traffic signal system was completed in advance of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

The combined extent of the city’s infrastructure improvement program has prompted both the city council and Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to improve oversight of the city’s mobility programs.

The council agreed Jan. 11 to hold its proposal at the request of the administration.

Atlanta City Councilmember Andre Dickens proposed that the city’s CFO conduct a feasibility study to create a single transportation-focused department. Its purpose, according to the legislation, would be to:

  • “Design, operate, manage and maintain the City of Atlanta’s transportation system and transit projects and infrastructure….”

Reed announced Feb. 14 the start of a comprehensive transportation planning initiative. It’s to dovetail into the Atlanta City Design Project, which is being coordinated by Ryan Gravel, who imagined the project that has become the Atlanta BeltLine.

The city’s current transportation plan was adopted in 2008. It’s been amended several times, but not systematically reviewed.

Reed said in a statement announcing the new transportation initiative:

  • “As our city continues to experience unprecedented growth, the City of Atlanta is committed to ensuring connectivity and mobility for residents and visitors. The new transportation plan is an essential part of making Atlanta an even more competitive city in the region, and will also create a greater quality of life for our pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. We invite all residents to help shape Atlanta’s transportation future.”


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

1 reply
  1. Avatar
    Burroughston Broch says:

    The City did something very similar before the 1996 Olympics at great cost. Then they failed to maintain or upgrade it. Twenty years later they repeat the effort at taxpayer expense. Mark your 2037 calendar for a reprise of this post.Report


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