Arterial Management Program
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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Traffic Signal Timing & Operations Strategies

Traffic signal timing dictates how the right-of-way and capacity in the form of green time is distributed to the competing movements of signalized intersections. Signal timing must address the needs of all users including, pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles, and in some cases must specifically accommodate, freight, transit, railroad and emergency vehicles. An objectives and performance based approach to traffic signal timing begins with an examination of organizational goals, considers context such as user mix, land use, network configuration and traffic demand to identify appropriate operations objectives, strategies and performance measures. The publications and training described below support an objectives and performance based design of traffic signal timing and implementation of operations strategies.

Key Publications

  • Traffic Signal Timing Manual Second Edition, NCHRP Report 812 - Provides guidance to promote a multimodal, objectives and performance based approach to development of traffic signal timing to address the needs of pedestrian, bicycles, transit and automobiles.
  • Traffic Signal Timing On a Shoestring (HTML, PDF 1MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-07-006) - This effort documents the minimum amount of data collection and optimization that should be performed in a signal retiming to acquire some appreciable benefits. This is aimed at jurisdiction or municipalities that cannot afford to perform more extensive data collection and analysis.
  • Traffic Signal Timing Process (HTML, DOC 458KMB) - This report identifies the steps that are required to time traffic signals and activities that result in improved traffic signal timing.
  • Signal Timing Under Saturated Conditions (HTML, PDF 1.6MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-008) - This document helps agencies to address the risks associated with ASCT implementation. The process involves exploration of agency operations needs to develop requirements that facilitate the procurement of ASCT.
  • Measures of Effectiveness and Validation Guidance for Signal Control Technologies (HTML, PDF 10.2MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-031) - This report documents the tools and methodology developed for validation of ASCT systems and summarizes the testing of this approach and measures at a field site. The intent of the field study was not to evaluate the field site specifically but rather to demonstrate the application of the validation measures and methodology to a real world implementation of ASCT.
  • Model Systems Engineering Documents for Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) Systems (HTML, PDF 1.2MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-11-027) - This document helps agencies to address the risks associated with ASCT implementation. The process involves exploration of the agencies needs and facilitates the development of requirements to facilitate the procurement of ASCT.
  • Highway Capacity Manual 2010 - Describes and provides methodology to assess the traffic and environmental effects of highway projects.
  • Additional Publications

Key Training

  • 133121 Traffic Signal Design and Operation (2-day, Instructor-Led)
    This course addresses the steps required to plan, design and implement a signalized intersection including warrant analysis, basic phasing and calculation of signal timing settings.
  • 133122 – Traffic Signal Timing Concepts (2-day, Instructor-Led)
    This course is for both seasoned professionals and novice traffic engineers to develop additional technical expertise in traffic signal timing design for isolated and coordinated traffic signal systems with the understanding of how the operation fits into an objective-driven, performance-oriented process.

Additional Training

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