THE BLOG

Los Angeles Gets 'In Sync' to Address Traffic

03/07/2013 12:49 pm ET | Updated May 07, 2013

Los Angeles is one of the most populated cities in the nation. It's a city of 12 million plus vehicles and, at times, it can feel like all 12 million are trying to get to the same place at the same time. In fact, across the country, Los Angeles has become synonymous with gridlock.

But, we are also known for our creativity and willingness to look a challenge in the face in order to create real solutions. These solutions are resulting in less time in our cars and less congestion on our streets. Over the past decade, we have made great strides in our efforts to address congestion on our city streets, get people out of their cars, and make our city a greener place in which to live.

This February, we took a major step forward in our effort to get Los Angeles moving and really start to tackle traffic. We have become the largest city in the world to have 100% of their traffic signals synchronized.

With over 4,000 traffic signals citywide, this was a major undertaking and one that didn't happen overnight. The network, known as Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSC) system dates back nearly three decades to the 1984 Olympics, when signals near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were synced to help with the traffic load. The system, which includes video cameras along major transit corridors, allows for a more streamlined approach to traffic management. Last year, the city began the process of upgrading the system to ensure that every community benefited from the ATSC system.

With a more streamlined signal system comes other important benefits -- fewer stops at intersections means less time spent idling at intersections. With this upgrade, there is a potential for a 16 percent decrease in air pollution according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency tasked with monitoring our region's air quality. With millions of people using our roads, this translates to a significant impact on our environment.

Besides addressing traffic congestion and our environment, the ATSC system will further support our city's emergency response efforts. In the instance of a natural disaster, the lights can be synchronized to route travelers away from downed lines, collapsed bridges, and other hazards caused by earthquakes, floods, storms, and other unforeseen natural occurrences. In fact, this is the same system that we used to route people away from areas damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. With this expanded capacity, our emergency personnel, officers, and firefighters have another tool at their disposal to support our public safety efforts.

Our city has a lot to be proud of. By completing our effort to synchronize every signal in the city, we have made true on our promise to make Los Angeles work better for the people. With this milestone, we are supporting our public safety efforts, improving our environment, and alleviating traffic for Los Angeles drivers. What was originally a small-scale project designed to support our city during the 1984 Olympics has now transformed into so much more.

Los Angeles -- we ARE moving forward.