Mar 222005
Authors: James Baetke

Fort Collins is ready to show off its brand new, state-of-the-art technology that is designed to ease the traffic congestions that have clogged the city.

"It makes quite a difference to have the signal system synchronized," said Ron Phillips, executive director of Fort Collins transportation services.

The new system that promises to kick congestion to the curb has been named the Advanced Traffic Management System or ATMS.

Not only are nearly all the city's traffic lights networked by a new system, but also a central control system manned by city workers who can monitor traffic by viewing 10 closed-circuit television cameras dotted strategically on city streets.

Cameras are positioned along College Avenue at intersections such as Drake and Horsetooth roads.

The Transportation Management Center is the city's traffic hub. Engineers can watch traffic live and can make changes to the system at a moment's notice. Furthermore, workers can monitor intersections by an all-inclusive grid system that displays what every traffic signal is displaying in the city.

"This is a happy moment for me. This is one of my campaign promises," said Ray Martinez, Fort Collins Mayor. "We have hit a major turning point in Fort Collins."

This new system has been in the works since March 2000 when it was realized the traffic issues in the city were growing increasingly worrisome. The volume of traffic and amount of accidents had been increasing.

In December, the project reached its final stages, and Tuesday was the official unveiling of the new traffic components. The project replaced a dated 1970s system that relied on communication via leased telephone lines that did not transfer data very well. Today, the system relies on advanced fiber optic technology that cost about $7.16 million.

Phillips and Martinez said the system was mostly paid for by the city's general fund to the sum of $5 million and the remaining $2.16 million was extracted from federal funding and grants.

"We have received very positive comments from the public," said Darin Atteberry, Fort Collins city manager.

Atteberry said the struggle to get the project up and running was a "multi-disciplinary effort." He credited the City Council and past City Manager John Fischbach for assisting with the project's development.

According to traffic officials, once the two corridors along College Avenue and Harmony Road were updated with the new system, accident numbers decreased by 9 percent – a decrease the city has not seen in years.

Other claimed successes include the ability to manually adjust traffic lights in case of accidents or increased traffic volume and to improve substantial travel time along corridor – including a 36 percent improvement along College Avenue from Mulberry Street to Harmony Road.

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