By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City aims at fewer red lights
In response to many complaints made to City Hall about too much time sitting at red lights, the Ceres City Council has approved a contract with an Irvine firm to synchronize and retime the cycles of Ceres' network of 26 traffic signals.

Last week the council approved a $65,469 contract with Minagar & Associates Inc. The work will be funded by a U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

The last time the city's traffic signals has been timed was in 2004. Since then the area has grown and some traffic flows and times have changed, knocking the current timing of reds and greens out of synchronization.

City Engineer Glenn Gebhardt said that by retiming the lights the city can achieve reduce emissions as well as improve traffic flow. The goal would be to allow a motorist to flow down the major traffic corridors such as Hatch, Mitchell and Whitmore with minimal stops at red lights.

Minagar has been coordinating the city's traffic signal network since 1996. Mayor Anthony Cannella questioned why the city would go back to Minagar when the traffic signals are no longer coordinated. But Gebhardt explained that several problems have occurred in the past six years. Interconnect wiring has failed as has the traffic controlled hardware.

Gebhardt also noted that the last synchronization probably reduced stopping by 50 percent.

"It's always been bad," countered Vice Mayor Ken Lane.

The concept behind synchronization that once a motorist moves into a green light cue going the proper speed that a series of green lights should be encountered. Synchronization does not eliminate stopping altogether, however.

Gebhardt said while he's confident that Minagar can do a good job he noted "we'll be watching them very carefully."

The firm is charging the city the same price per intersection as it charged in 2004, said Minagar, and remains the lowest responsible bidder. The city of Modesto also uses the firm and since the Ceres and Modesto systems are tied together with at least one intersection, using the same engineering firm makes sense, he said.

Cannella said as far as he knows the greatest traffic impact in Ceres are the trucks that use Mitchell and Hatch roads. He said with trucks having slower stop and start times "I don't know how you can time for that."

The scope of the contract includes timing the system with at least one county controlled intersection - at Hatch and Morgan. The state controls the traffic signals atop the Hatch Road Highway 99 overpass.

The consultant will conduct field studies after the sychronization to measure parameters and prepare a report discussing the before and after conditions and benefits of the retiming process.

The busiest roads in Ceres are Mitchell Road, Hatch Road and Whitmore Avenue, in that order. Mitchell Road was carrying 27,468 trips each day in 2001 but that rate has increased an estimated eight percent per year.

Hatch Road was averaging about 23,948 trips per day in 2001.

Nine years ago Whitmore Avenue was carrying an estimated 14,767 trips each day and was growing by a rate of 2 percent per year.