A little fiber may be just the thing for your commute.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are expected to accept a $150,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation to connect all the traffic signals on 23rd Street to a fiber-optic network.
The network will allow the traffic signals to be better synchronized and also will allow the city to more quickly spot problems that develop.
“Right now if there is a problem with a light at one of those intersections we either have to see it, a police officer sees it and radios it in, or a citizen sees it and calls us,” said Shoeb Uddin, city engineer. “With the new system, if there is any type of problem, it will give us an alert right at our desk, and we can diagnose the problem right away.”
The project also will give the city more ability to change the signals for special events, such as graduation or Kansas University athletic events. Also included in the project will be cameras at key intersections — but not red-light cameras because they are illegal in the state — to help city officials monitor changing traffic conditions.
But Uddin said that’s just the start of what the new system can do. Connecting the traffic signals to the fiber-optic network will allow the city to create what engineers call an Intelligent Transportation System.
“Pundits in the industry compare Intelligent Transportation Systems to the interstate highway system,” Uddin said. “They think this could be as revolutionary as interstates. I’m confident that it will have a lot of benefits that we don’t even know of yet.”
The city won’t receive the grant money, however, until July 2012. Uddin said the city likely would be ready to install the network sometime next summer.
This will be the second grant the city has received from the state in recent years to install fiber-optic cable for traffic signals. The signals on Sixth Street east of Iowa Street and the signals on Iowa Street from Sixth to 23rd Street are connected to a fiber-optic network.
The city will have to match the $150,000 grant with $30,000 in local funding. The project should not create major construction delays for motorists because the conduit to house the fiber-optic cable was installed years ago. A private company about 10 years ago installed conduit along several city streets as payment to the city for use of city right-of-way for a private fiber-optic project. Uddin said having the conduit already installed along 23rd Street saved the city about $500,000.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.