Traffic Light Synchronization

Traffic light synchronization is a technique where instead of lights flipping independently they are coordinated to not stop traffic once it is moving. It increases the average time it will take to turn left onto a road, but decreases the travel time once you are moving.

Traffic loads are have gone past what Burlington's traditional 2 lane system can sanely handle. With condo development projects all over the city, tens of thousands of cars are on the way to Burlington. Many of these condo developments will be approved before the 2018 council has any say in the matter; most will get built before any breaks can be applied. The ideal time to engage proper controls and push back on this trend was years ago, now we need to play catch up to a bad situation. Despite lots of talk of getting people to use alternatives, nothing with even a small hope of making any real difference is even proposed. The major form of transportation for many of these people will still be vehicles.

The idea that thousands of millennials will magically commute back and forth to Toronto on the GO train around mobility hubs and not present significant additional traffic load does not bear out in reality. Although that may be the original intention, people will get spouses, change jobs, etc. These buildings have underground garages loaded with thousands of cars. Yes, the rate of car ownership may be less, but the total number of cars in use will grow drastically.

This leaves us with three options. Ignore the problem and use traffic congestion as a way to lower car usage by making driving as frustrating as possible as suggested by some. I think this unethical, unwise and totally unsustainable in a democracy.

Burlington could join with Halton Region and add HOV lanes to all major routes. Halton Region pays for Highway 5, Guelph Line, Brant Street and Appleby. The city of Burlington needs to pay for Plains Road / Fairview and Walkers Line. Adding these HOV lanes has long been the plan in Burlington, note the bridges over the 407 are already set up for 3 lanes of traffic. This will certainly work, but I would like to limit the population before this becomes necessary. One big advantage here is that the Bus can use the HOV lanes and will provide faster transit service without the need for expensive exotic solutions. It will create a much larger feel to the city and I would like to avoid this if possible, but we must maintain the ability to add HOV lanes if required.


The third option is then to stretch our current two-lane system with timed lights. The negative here is that the timed system could potentially start attracting users from the already overstretched highway system. Also, This is not some formula that allows you to place condos all over the city in a sky's the limit fashion. Timed light allows you to get a little more out of the existing system, but you still need to limit demand on the system or you just end up with the same mess later. For now, though this is the best solution.

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  • Steve Alexander
    commented 2018-09-24 14:02:54 -0700
    Traffic lights in Burlington are the subject of many many jokes. I have lived in Hamilton, Brantford and Toronto and thses cities have got it right. Syncing the lights is far more important than installing speed bumps on North Shore Blvd to help rich people’s property values. I quit my gym because of the traffic mess at Guelph Line and the QEW. There is no reason to take our buisiness to other cities like I have just because we hate driving here. This problem is compounded by the condo explosion as well. I hit 6 out of 6 lights red today on Plains Road – FRUSTRATING !!!! Go get em Greg !!!


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