Getting through traffic lights in Puyallup and South Hill can feel like it takes hours.
But commuters are actually getting through them faster than they used to, according to a new report from the city of Puyallup.
Preliminary findings posted on the city website show that in some areas vehicles are moving through intersections at a faster rate.
“Commute volumes and delays are common complaints and a source of frustration for many. By implementing adaptive traffic systems, Puyallup is using modern technology to get folks where they’re going in less time and with fewer stops,” Puyallup Mayor John Palmer said in an emailed statement.
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It’s all thanks to a new traffic-signal system.
The new system, called the adaptive traffic system, monitors traffic volume and adjusts signals accordingly.
It first was installed downtown in 2015 along South Meridian at 3rd Street Southeast and 2nd Street Northeast and since has been expanded to roads like 9th Street Southwest on the hill.
The system communicates with surrounding intersections to track where heavy traffic is coming from.
“By prioritizing where and when travel is heaviest, the adaptive system optimizes northbound movement during the morning peak travel period and southbound movement in the late afternoon/early evening,” the city stated on its website.
The early findings show how many cars passed through the old system versus the new system at specific intersections between 4-6 p.m. on one day.
The 9th Street Southwest corridor in Puyallup sees approximately 31,000 vehicle trips each weekday. With the new adaptive system, up to 35 percent of those vehicles are hitting more green lights.
Out of four intersections along 9th Street Southwest evaluated with the new system, three of them showed improvement in the total number of vehicles passing through the intersection and vehicles moving southwest, the heaviest movement of traffic at the time.
“Drivers will notice less delay and a reduction in travel time through the corridor,” city spokeswoman Brenda Fritsvold said in an email.
The system at the intersection of state Route 512 Eastbound exit and 9th Street Southwest did not record properly and did not list any data. New data will be recorded at that intersection.
Here’s a look at data from specific intersections:
31st Avenue Southwest and 9th Street Southwest:
Total number of cars served under the old system: 5,002; under the new system: 6,035. Improvement: 21 percent.
Number of vehicles moving south served under the old system: 2,286; under the new system: 3,076. Improvement: 35 percent
South Hill Park Drive/state Route 512 Westbound Exit and 9th Street Southwest:
Total number of cars served under the old system: 5,215; under the new system: 5,576. Improvement: 7 percent.
Number of vehicles moving south served under the old system: 3,804; under the new system: 4,515. Improvement: 19 percent.
39th Avenue Southwest and 9th Street Southwest:
Total number of cars served under the old system: 8,019; under the new system: 9,057. Improvement: 13 percent
Number of vehicles moving south served under the old system: 4,101; under the new system: 5,201. Improvement: 27 percent.
A full report is expected to be released in the coming months.
Starting this month, River Road, between South Meridian and 11th Street Northwest, will run the adaptive system. Next year, the system will expand to the 5th Street Northwest corridor.