Menifee aims to fix traffic congestion with government-funded project

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Menifee is in the process of interconnecting traffic signals, such as this system being installed at the intersection of Antelope Road and Stillwater Drive in Menifee. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

Menifee is working on a project that will allow the city to help diminish traffic congestion. The traffic signal communications project was first awarded a grant of $1,021,600 in 2008, but only recently begun to be installed. Jonathan G. Smith, city engineer and director of public works, discussed the project in more detail over a video call.

“We broke the project up to the east side and the west side of the I-215,” Smith said. “The city incorporated it Oct. 1, 2008, and at that time of our incorporation we had about, I want to say 50 traffic signals. They were all installed without any possibility of connecting them and bringing that information to one location.”

They came up with a way of interconnecting traffic signals and bringing that information to city hall.

“We can monitor the traffic signals and adjust them to allow traffic to flow more efficiently,” Smith said. “For instance, during the Christmas season when everyone is out trying to get to a particular store, we’re able to watch that intersection that’s being impacted by the shoppers.”

Smith said that with this information, they can adjust the timing of the signals live from the office, helping to improve the circulation and allow shoppers to get to the stores a little more quickly.

“If there’s an event that causes traffic back up, say an accident on the road, we can control the traffic signals to run green to clear out traffic, to whatever we need until the issue is resolved,” he said.

They’ll also be notified through the system when there’s a malfunction at the traffic signal.

“If it happens to lose power, if a light goes out – any issues with the traffic signal – the system will inform us,” he said.

The system wirelessly sends a signal and notifies staff.

“The command signal also sends the information to the maintenance staff to their cellphones, so they’ll get the information right on their cellphones live and they will respond to the issue very quickly,” he said.

They’ve finished installation on the east side of the city and are currently working on the west side.

“We have a traffic engineer that will be monitoring the traffic system live, during the day,” Smith said. “If an issue comes up during the evening, a notification will be sent out to the maintenance team alerting them of the issue so it will have 24-hour surveillance.”

Right now, if a traffic signal goes out, the city may not know about it until a community member calls it in. With this new system, they’ll save time if they know about the issue before heading out to see what it may be, or what parts they need to repair it.

The project is federally funded with a grant.

“We were successful in winning the grant; however, that doesn’t mean they give you the money right away,” Smith said. “It was sometime later that we received the money to be able to do the design; then we had to request the money for the construction, and then it was a while before we received that.”

Smith said he anticipates completion of the project in the next three months.

“The system will be up and running both on the east and west side and we’ll be able to monitor everything from city hall and manage it,” Smith said.

There will be 62 signals retrofitted with these two projects, according to Smith, both on the east and west sides.

“We have other traffic signals that developers have constructed since then, and have installed the same equipment and will get it online,” Smith said. “It will be somewhere in the vicinity of 90 traffic signals.”

“In Menifee, traffic is an issue,” Smith said. “And this is just another step in managing our traffic more efficiently to allow our commuters, our residents to get to and from wherever they’re going more efficiently.”

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.