MDOT Traffic Lights Should Synchronize Highway 90

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - MDOT officials say the new signal lights are going up in three areas along the coast. Highway 90 in Hancock County, Highway 43 in the Kiln, and along Highway 90 in Harrison County.

Right now, when a green arrow appears, it signals the go ahead for drivers waiting to turn north onto Lameuse Street from Highway 90 in Biloxi. The thing is, that turn lane is often empty.

Kelly Castleberry with MDOT said, "A lot of motorists will get stopped at lights, and a green arrow will come on. And they'll notice that there may not be a car in that lane," he said. "The reason why is it's on fixed time. It just doesn't know if anybody is there or not."

Before Hurricane Katrina, MDOT says traffic lights knew if someone was waiting to turn through sensors put inside the street pavement. Soon, cameras mounted onto brand new traffic lights will do that job.

"The new system that we are installing, there are no wires in the pavement. The cameras actually send out an infrared beam, and it can detect a car in that lane," Castleberry said. "It will make the traffic flow a lot more efficient. If you don't need the turn lanes to activate, then it won't activate and it will speed up the process for the cars to get through that intersection and to their point of destination."

People traveling on foot will also benefit from the new lights.

"Most of the new traffic signals will have cross walk indicators for pedestrians," he said. "It will also have the sensors that will tell the pedestrian to let you know how many seconds you have to get across there and let you know if you need to speed up or not."

And for anyone who feels uneasy about the new cameras, MDOT engineers emphasize there is no Big Brother watching.

"They're not taking pictures of the cars. They're not monitoring speed," said Castleberry. "The only purpose of that camera is to make sure that we can detect a car, and that way it will let the signal know that it needs to turn the light for a car in that lane."

MDOT says it's installing 54 new traffic lights on the coast The lights cost from $150,000 to $400,000. Some of the signals and cameras are already operating. Engineers hope to have everything on line by December.