By C. Julia Nelson
cjnelson@reporternewspapers.net

It’s all about timing.

Keeping traffic flowing smoothly along the Roswell corridor and throughout Sandy Springs, often takes nothing short of a miracle. Jeff Messer, the Traffic Services Manager for the Traffic Services Division of Public Works, has taken the challenge head on and is working with staff toward making traffic flow more manageable and safer.

Since November, Messer has guided the city toward incorporating a centralized Advanced Traffic Management Center (ATMC) at City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road. With Sandy Springs City Council’s approval to proceed in February, Messer has been laying the groundwork for the project.

Starting with the ATMC, the city will dedicate a room to control about 75 percent of the city’s 120 traffic signals. A contract has been awarded to Protronix, Inc. for $960,853 to design and build the physical space. It will include a video wall and have the ability to control signal timing and cameras located at 91 intersections.

Video Technology

Having very few north/south corridors within city limits, timing of the traffic signals is crucial to maintaining traffic flow.

As part of the ATMC, an Advanced Transportation Management System will be implemented and 53 closed-circuit, pan-tilt and zoom video cameras will be added to intersections along the main thoroughfares. These cameras will provide data for about 65 to 70 percent of the main roads, Messer said.

“There will be 13 (streaming video) cameras just on Roswell Road,” he said.

The system will be controlled from the ATMC and give staff the ability to adjust traffic signals as needed for incident management, congestion reduction, gridlock prevention, special events and regular signal timing. Additionally, the streaming videos will eventually be posted on the city’s Web site, www.sandyspringsga.gov.

“We will be able to communicate changes to the traffic signals (from the ATMC),” he said.

This will save employee time immensely by reducing the number of trips technicians make to assess problems and make repairs, Messer said. The cameras will be purchased by Protronix, under the same contract and installed by Control Specialists Company in the upcoming weeks.

Centralized Traffic Control

An added tool for managing traffic will be the installation of 61 state-of-the-art 2070 traffic signal control cabinets, which will upgrade 91 intersections. This equipment upgrade, featuring the latest in traffic signalization technology, is made possible through a force account agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

“The city has to buy the equipment. Once we get the equipment, we take those invoices (and paperwork) and turn them in to the state,” Messer explained. “We have to store the equipment and (install it).”

The 2070 cabinets, which will sync a majority of the signals back to the ATMC through several miles of fiber optic cable, will be installed under a contract with Control Specialties for the amount of $94,500. Installation will occur after GDOT approves the agreement and the city places an order. To date that has not occurred.

Under the agreement, GDOT will provide back-up batteries for the 2070 cabinets.

“If the power goes out, the lights will stay on using the battery back-up for a period of time or until the power is restored,” he said.

These upgrades are worth about $850,000 and are part of GDOT’s effort to have a standard Automated Traffic Control device at every intersection in the state. Currently the city uses five different control devices.

Splicing and installation

The city has approved two contracts to physically connect the 2070 cabinets back to the ATMC – one for splicing and another for installing the fiber optic cable. BJPaving, Inc. will handle the fiber splicing for $54,303 and Rocky Mountain Fiber Plus, Inc will install the cable for $72,375.

The fiber cable, most of which is going above ground, is currently in the beginning phases of installation. Fiber splicing, which involves joining two fiber optic cables together, has not yet begun.

Database Conversion

As a final step to the traffic control enhancements, the city has approved two contracts to administer database conversion for the 2070 traffic control boxes. The approved contracts were awarded to URS Corporation, for $35,136, and to Iteris, Inc., for $25,000. Both contractors will begin work on assigned intersections in the next few weeks.

“The data is an old database in a different control (box),” Messer explained. “You have to get all that information out of each intersection and convert it to data that will go inside a 2070.”

Data such as the length of the light during peak hours, the maximum amount of time a light can serve a main or side street and emergency operations will have to be converted at each intersection where a new 2070 will be installed.

“Once we do the conversion, we will develop plans strictly for (potential traffic mitigation situations),” Messer said.

The new 2070 controllers have the capability to work on a 1-Gig network, which is greater than the other controllers currently used.

The ATMC should open mid-summer.