Young will call on DOT to synchronize traffic lights ahead of Don’t Block the Box rollout

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Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young will introduce a resolution at tonight’s council meeting calling on the Department of Transportation to properly synchronize traffic lights ahead of the Don’t Block the Box initiative.

Scheduled to start May 1 with a warning period, Don’t Block the Box would give a ticket to any driver caught in the intersection after the light has changed. Once the warning period ends, motorists found blocking the box will receive a ticket with a $90 fine and one point on their driver’s license.

But according to the text of the resolution, Young says drivers in violation of the law “could also be victims of other problems who unwittingly become stuck in an intersection.”

Properly synchronizing the traffic lights could allow for better traffic flow, reduced emissions and less aggressive driving, the resolution says.

“Until the City has taken steps to ensure that traffic lights are properly synchronized and are not contributing to gridlock, it would be premature to begin aggressive enforcement actions against drivers that could interfere with their ability to legally operate a vehicle,” the resolution says. “Taking a comprehensive approach to Baltimore’s gridlock problem is both more appropriate and more likely to result in real change.”

The end result would be determined by DOT. Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to the department for comment.

But here’s a look at some of the more modern programs out there. Newer systems measure the flow of traffic, rather than putting lights on a timer, creating what’s called a “green wave.” Last year, the Hogan administration invested $50 million into similar smart technology. None of the signals were installed in Baltimore City, which maintains control of its roads.

When The Sun‘s Michael Dresser looked into the operation of traffic lights in 2010, there was a small team programming the city’s 1,300 lights, and a group of more than a dozen operating the signals, some of which were three or four decades old.

The reason he was reporting the story: complaints about synchronization.

Brandon Weigel

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