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VicRoads program reviewing smarter roads

The program is already shaving travel time off busy freight routes

When were you last stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, lamenting the traffic lights?

VicRoads are onto it, having started its biggest ever traffic light review to make transport easier for drivers and freight operators.

VicRoads director of transport operations Emily Lodder joined Rafael Epstein on ABC Melbourne’s Drive recently to discuss the program and its progress.

“So far, we have reviewed 331 signal sites in Melbourne’s west, east and south-east, and we’re going to be reviewing a total of 850 by the end of the year before we move to the rest of metro Melbourne, which will be another 2,000 sets of lights next year,” Lodder says.

“Previously we’ve reviewed these signals about once every 10 years, and that’s because of the numbers of tools, systems and resources we had available, that was as quickly as we could get to them.”

But the smarter roads program, led by VicRoads, has meant Lodder and her team can get to Melbourne’s traffic lights more frequently to ensure smooth operation and prevent congestion through key freight routes.

Under the program, traffic lights will be reviewed once every four years to ensure signals run smoothly and are synchronised across corridors to share green time fairly.

“That’s really important – we’re not just sharing green time between cars; we’re considering everyone at the intersections. All modes of transport, including buses, trams, cyclists and pedestrians as well,” Lodder says.

The smarter roads program focuses on safety, with engineers optimising traffic lights to make it easier for transport users and freight operators to get where they need to be.

The review includes examining when intersections have their greatest demand and other trends, including signal timing and coordination.

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According to VicRoads benefits are already being seen, with motorists travelling near the Monash Freeway seeing an average of two and a half minutes shaved from the regular trip in morning peak.

Outbound truck drivers in Werribee are also benefiting, saving up to five minutes during afternoon peak periods, while in Dandenong there’s also been incremental travel time improvement despite an increase in traffic.

Once done working on these areas, VicRoads will attack closer to the city and the key freight routes in the inner suburbs.

“Once we finish in the west, east and south-east we’ll be looking at the rest of metro Melbourne, so we’ll be focusing on the inner suburbs around the CBD, especially where we have lots of public transport movements,” Lodder says.

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