Lack Of Staff Blamed For Delay In Fixing Tulsa Traffic Lights

Thursday, October 8th 2015, 11:29 pm
By: News On 6

Traffic isn't something any of us like to deal with, but we all get caught up in it at one time or another.

As Tulsa continues to attract new development, some areas are getting very congested but there isn’t much being done to adjust traffic signals to accommodate the increase.

The signals in downtown have been synchronized for years now, but other areas that have had new stores pop up aren't being adjusted.

It's not that city engineers don't want to ease traffic, they just don't have the staff to man the signals 24/7.

Drivers know the drill, stop on red, go on green, but sometimes it feels like the green light will never come.

"It's a little bit convoluted. It seems like too many people in one spot to me," driver Darren Jackson said.

The traffic signals on the stretch of roadway near 41 and Yale is on city engineers list to synchronize, but the city needs to buy a new advanced traffic management system first.

Traffic Operations Manager, Tracy Nyholm, said, “The traffic signal system we have currently was purchased in the 90s and developed in the 70s."

The system coordinates the busiest stretches of roadway in Tulsa.

Lights are synchronized along 71st Street near 169, on a stretch of Yale and a few more busy streets. However, many of those areas have seen growth, and the timing has not been adjusted in years.

Jackson said, "It's kind of concerning if you think about it because there seems like a lot more traffic now than there has been."

Nyholm said she and another manager try to fix traffic flow problems, but there just isn't enough time to study and continuously update light synchronization.

Right now the City of Tulsa doesn't even have a dedicated signal timing engineer, which also means lights aren't being updated even when new developments are built, like near 81st and Highway 75.

"We really can't adapt that quickly. And one of the problems, is we just don't have enough staff," Nyholm said.

City engineers are part of the public safety tax proposal in the Vision 2025 Renewal Funds and would use the money to hire 13 people, including five traffic signal technicians.

Until then, Nyholm said drivers will just have to bear with them.

If you do have a complaint about a traffic signal you can contact the city’s Customer Care Center, to document it. City engineers look at those and respond but said it takes some time, and they will try to fix them if they can.