A major portion of an improved Dallas Traffic Management system, in the works for years, is up for approval by the Dallas City Council Wednesday.
The $9.8 million plan will upgrade old computers at the Dallas City Hall traffic management center, where around 1,500 intersections signals in the city are controlled.
"The system we have is obsolete," said Auro Majumdar, assistant director of assistant mobility and street services. "It's a 1980s system that is not supported by the manufacturer anymore, so if the system breaks down, we will not be able to replace it, and we will lose control of the traffic signals."
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Most of the signals around the city also have outdated control box equipment that communicates with the central computers by analog devices at dial-up speed.
About 600 of the 1,500 intersections have been upgraded to digital equipment that allows far more traffic light program options and faster communication with the central computers. The improved control boxes can provide the control center with better information about any malfunction to speed repairs.
"We can send out technicians with the right equipment in the truck to fix the system," Majumdar said.
Upgraded equipment will help Dallas deal with future autonomous vehicles and car-to-car connections. And surrounding cities are making similar upgrades to create an improved regional transportation management system.
Drivers are anxious for improvements.
"It's frustrating. It's really, really frustrating when you have to start and stop," said driver Sam Nystrom. "The minutes add up really quickly."
Fewer red lights can also reduce gas consumption and improve air quality.
"That's very good, especially if it's going to save time and gas. Time and gas is very important," said driver Patricia Lincoln.
It could be 2020 before all the new equipment is installed in Dallas.
Around half the money for Wednesday's City Council Agenda item comes from state grants, while the rest is city bond money.