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Adaptive signal system learning traffic flow on Eastern Shore to ease congestion

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(IMG:WPMI) Adaptive signal system learning traffic flow on Eastern Shore to ease congestion

A solution to the traffic headache along the Eastern Shore is one step closer to becoming a reality.

NBC 15 first told you about the new adaptive signal system on U.S. Highway 98 in 2017 and now it is hard at work learning traffic patterns.

The unprecedented growth along the Eastern Shore hit its heaviest traveled roadway the hardest.

For business owner and Fairhope resident Jimmy Johnson, U.S. Highway 98 is essential but travel times are a pain in the neck.

"It's crazy traffic. If we had something to make it smoother going up between Daphne and Fairhope, it would be great," said Johnson.

With a greenlight given to a new adaptive traffic signal system last year, officials say they're full-speed ahead toward a solution.

The adaptive signals are in place on 28 intersections from Fairhope to Spanish Fort and soon cameras will be installed.

Daniel Driskell with the Alabama Department of Transportation said the cameras will allow officials access to the video from inside the ALDOT command post above the George Wallace Tunnel.

"We can monitor them here using our video wall and from that, we can get good information that we can use to adjust the traffic signals to make it flow more efficiently," Driskell said.

The 2.7 million dollar project was coordinated between the Eastern Shore MPO, Baldwin County and the Alabama Department of Transportation and uses the cameras as well as ground sensors to monitor the flow of traffic.

A computer system will eventually learn to adjust the lights on Highway 98.

"What that will do is drastically increase the efficiency of the roadway without adding additional lanes to make sure that lights are synchronized," said Chris Elliott, Baldwin County Commissioner.

Officials say the project will increase capacity on the highway from 10 to 50 percent and reduce the amount of time drivers spend waiting at lights.

"Technology the way it is now is great and if they can do something like that it would surely help the traffic flow," Johnson said.

An adaptive signal system is also in place from Foley to Gulf Shores and has improved traffic along Highway 59.