Accurate, reliable vehicle detections from SmartSensor Advance and SmartSensor Matrix are contributing to a successful adaptive system deployment in a high-traffic area of Houston.

Project Team 

Montgomery County, Texas; Fourth Dimension Traffic; and TwinCrest Technologies, an authorized Wavetronix channel partner. 

Project Scope 

To install and operate an intelligent signal control system around the Woodland Town Center area north of Houston capable of adapting to the area’s unpredictable traffic patterns in real time. 

Problems and Challenges 

Woodland Town Center is a popular shopping and event destination that experiences periods of both heavy and light traffic, depending on the season, time of day, and whether an event is taking place.  The area is home to the Woodlands Mall, which experiences very heavy traffic during the holiday season; nearby is the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, a 16,500-seat event center that generates heavy traffic during concerts and performances. Other traffic-generating events in the area include an annual Iron Man competition.  Montgomery County traffic officials have difficulty predicting traffic patterns in the area, making basic signal timing a challenge.  Additionally, there are a lot of private drives in the area, where right-of-way issues prevent the use of most vehicle detection systems. 

Solution 

Montgomery County partnered with Ryan Longmire of TwinCrest Technologies and Eric Nelson, PE, of Fourth Dimension Traffic to create a customized peer-to-peer adaptive system.  

The system uses SmartSensor Matrix for stop bar detection and SmartSensor Advance for advance detection. They also take advantage of Advance’s 600-foot detection range to detect vehicles on roadways where right-of-way issues prevented using other detection methods.  

Wavetronix was chosen because it is already known and appreciated in the area. “The county is already familiar with Wavetronix sensors,” Longmire says.  “They’re attracted to the reliability and accuracy of them.” 

Eric Nelson then took the information and data collection capabilities of the SmartSensors and crafted custom timing plans for each intersection, allowing them to communicate and collaborate based on real-time traffic conditions. This custom programing is a signature of Nelson and Fourth Dimension Traffic. 

“They don’t have a one-size-fits-all attitude,” says Longmire. “[Nelson] studies the intersection and comes up with unique timing plans for each one.” 

Benefits 

The results of this new system, available to view at mctraffic.org, show a five to 22 percent reduction of travel time; a 17 to 56 percent reduction in average delay; a 19 to 79 percent reduction in stop delay; a seven to 60 percent reduction in average stops; and a five to 50 percent increase in average speed along the main loop road around the mall, with similar improvements at all other coordinated intersections.