A city in central Oklahoma is spending millions of dollars preparing for self-driving cars while working to alleviate traffic problems.
Edmond Traffic Engineer Tom Minnick told The Oklahoman that the city is laying down infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. The $5 million intelligent traffic system project involves improvements at more than 20 intersections and the addition of 10 miles of fiber-optic cable.
“We need to be ready,” he said.
Minnick said he hopes the system will reduce congestion and improve safety.
City officials have been looking into how an intelligent traffic system could lessen congestion issues since 2007. The U.S. Department of Transportation is encouraging cities to develop such systems, which relay information to cars about intersections and where things are located.
The system will allow city staff to monitor traffic flow and adjust traffic signals from an office in the Public Works Center.
“When we do the ITS system, we must have a robust communication system to connect all of these devices,” Minnick said.
Project costs have increased more than $1 million above the estimates the city originally gave a few years ago. The cost increases have mostly come from the city seeking tighter controls on construction work. The contractor will be required to ground all electronics to prevent short-circuiting, which happened multiple times during the first phase of the project and resulted in equipment needing to be replaced, Minnick said.
“We stood our ground,” he said. “We have put tighter controls on this project.”
Phase two is expected to begin in early November, with work being conducted on a single intersection at a time, Minnick said. Phrase three is currently being designed and construction likely won’t take place for several years.
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