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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Government earmark £70m extra for signals upgrades


The Government has announced a raft of measures to make traffic signals more efficient, including the replacement of old equipment, a new “Green Light Fund” and new technology to better manage city centre traffic.


This is being described as “the biggest investment in traffic signals in decades”.

The Department for Transport issued the Plan for Drivers after Transport Secretary Mark Harper told the Conservative Party Conference that he would offer people “transport choice” and that the party is “proudly pro-car”.


The Plan for Drivers includes £30 million to upgrade traffic signal systems, replacing unreliable and obsolete equipment to improve reliability, a £20 million ‘Green Light Fund’ to tune up traffic signals to better reflect current traffic conditions and get traffic flowing and £20 million to deploy advanced technology for traffic signals, making use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimise traffic flow and balance traffic across city centres.


This follows a successful £15 million of spending to maintain and upgrade signals which involved the granting of between £250,000 and £500,000 in extra maintenance grants for 39 authorities. That money was administered through the Transport Technology Forum, although it is not clear yet whether the TTF will be involved in the distribution of the latest funding.


The plan points to that spending in a section which reads: “Provision of government funding and support to local councils will create a benefit in traffic flow for drivers and other road users. We allocated £15 million specifically for traffic signal maintenance in 2021 to 2022 to help authorities replace life-expired equipment and improve operation. This resulted in the delivery of 232 schemes across 39 local authorities in England to tune up traffic signal performance. Initial unpublished data from 88 junction schemes across 27 of these authorities shows an average reduction in vehicle travel times of 8%. This not only reduces frustration but also saves fuel and cuts carbon emissions.”


Talking of the extra funding, it says: “Traffic signals are essential to ensure road junctions work smoothly and safely. Helping local authorities to retune their traffic control systems could free up traffic flow in cities. Technology can be used to manage flow intelligently, reduce queuing, reduce the time drivers spend at red lights and generally speed up journeys. Many traffic signals have not been updated since they were introduced, leading to longer waits than necessary and poor utilisation of road space. Currently, around half of England’s traffic signals are working below optimal performance.”


The £15 million of funding was administered for the TTF by LCRIG, and therefore more details of the funding may be given at the LCRIG Strictly Highways event in Blackpool starting today (Tuesday).

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