Goodyear City Council signals

Goodyear City Council approved “smart signal” upgrades at key intersections around the city.

For those who don’t gamble, this is the jackpot moment: getting all the greens.

Yet, for many around the West Valley, daily driving has more “busted” moments: hitting all the reds.

For those gritting their teeth—if not howling and cursing—in frustration, help may be on the way.

Goodyear City Council approved a $2.7 million “smart signal” project. “It should help us,” said Hugh Bigalk, a city traffic engineer, during his presentation to city council.

Goodyear’s share of the cost is less than $365,000, with the federal government paying the rest.

Formally known as the Intelligent Transportation System, the project will replace outdated traffic signal controllers and video detection equipment at 16 key intersections, according to Bigalk’s presentation.

It will also install vehicle travel time hardware at 18 intersections. 

“The new traffic signal controllers and video detection systems will modernize the city’s traffic signals by providing enhanced performance and diagnostic information,” the engineer said.

As it’s hard to argue against improving traffic, the proposal passed unanimously, with Mayor Georgia Lord and council members Bill Stipp, Joe Pizzillo, Sheri Lauritano, Wally Campbell, Brannon Hampton and Laura Kaino voting for the smart signals upgrade. 

Several of the elected officials noted they regularly get complaints from citizens about traffic—and warned that the new project is not a “cure all” that will suddenly make driving in the growing city a breeze. 

“It would be utopian to say I can get from MC 85 to Indian School and never touch a red light—that would be a fantasy,” said Pizzillo.

“The concerns we hear is, ‘I can’t get from Falcon Drive to Litchfield on Indian School Road without hitting at least four red lights.’ …. That’s the frustration we hear from residents,” the councilman said.

Though he reiterated the smart signals will not solve Goodyear’s traffic problems, “This will take us one step closer to utopia,” Pizzillo said.

System upgrade

Traffic signal monitoring/control software at Goodyear’s Traffic Management Center also will be upgraded.

This is expected to be a first step in improving traffic flow, according to the presentation: “The software combined with the vehicle travel time hardware will allow TMC staff to measure performance of the coordinated arterial roadways and report their performance.

“It will also allow TMC staff to evaluate and adjust traffic signal coordination based on how traffic is moving along a coordinated arterial roadway,” according to agenda information.

The smart signals will be installed incrementally along three of Goodyear’s most-traveled roads.

One is on McDowell Road from the Loop 303 to just west of Dysart Road. 

A second is Estrella/Pebble Creek Parkway—the parkway is Estrella on the south side of Interstate 10, Pebble Creek on the north side of the freeway—from MC 85 to Indian School Road. 

The third location is Litchfield Road from MC 85 to Wigwam Boulevard. 

Upgrades on all three roads will begin this month, with completion expected by the fall of 2021.

Bigalk said the city “is currently (using) 2004 technology.”

The upgrade is desperately needed, he said.

“I’m not saying it’s a cure all, but it will definitely help.”

Replacing signals and software will allow the city to measure the number of people arrivals on red and arrivals on green as well as travel time, “similar to systems such as Google Maps can track.”

Councilwoman Cambell asked if the city will be able to synchronize lights.

Doing that in both directions, the engineer answered, “becomes very difficult.”

Without making promises that residents can cruise through a long stretch of greens, he said the new system “gives us another tool to be more responsive quicker.”

Amen, said Lord.

“The increased population hurts us,” the mayor said. “We are growing so fast it’s impossible to keep up.”

While Lord said she appreciates the frustrations shared by many, she has a regular route where she gets “every (green) light.”

“You can do that sometimes.”

Soon, that Goodyear traffic jackpot may be a little easier to hit.