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Colorado Springs receives $1.7 million federal grant to improve traffic safety

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)--The City of Colorado Springs received a SMART award for $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The city was one of only 59 grant award recipients across the country.

According to traffic engineer Todd Frisbie, the city already utilized radar technology at about 200 intersections that helps to monitor traffic flow and adjust the light pattern accordingly.

The new grant money will pay to test similar technology to another 50 intersections, but along with the ability to adjust traffic flow, the new radar technology will also be able to adjust when pedestrians or buses are detected.

Frisbie says the purpose of using this technology is to allow traffic signals within the city to make decisions in response to high volumes of traffic and other factors.

Small white boxes on stoplights house the existing radar technology 

The traffic management tools include radar and light-detecting and ranging technologies (LiDAR) to perceive vehicle position, size, and speed of vehicles entering and exiting intersections.

Frisbie said there's also an opportunity to make crosswalks safer. This new technology can recognize if a person is still in the crosswalk even if their time to cross ran out.

According to the city's grant application, 60% of car crashes involving fatalities and/or injuries occur at intersections without a traffic signal, while 36% happen at signalized intersections. The city said this project will be able to identify and mitigate potential conflicts based on road user type, trajectory, and speed to reduce crashes.

Frisbie hopes the new technology will also encourage riders to use public transportation.

"The technology and and the sensor technology... can recognize that there's a bus and it's waiting at a red light. It can, with the algorithms written, say give that bus the priority," he says.

El Paso County’s population is expected to exceed 1 million by 2050, according to the application, and the increased loading of the transportation network will be challenging to manage.

Frisbie said the city will apply for phase 2 of this project in 2025.

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Barbara Fox

Barbara is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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