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Ask The Times: Multiple criteria determine traffic signal locations
Traffic volume, crashes and proximity of school and railroad crossings considered
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

What are the criteria for traffic signals? One was recently installed on Thompson Bridge Road where Wal-Mart was built, but there’s not one on Limestone Parkway by J&J Foods.

There are a few criteria the Georgia Department of Transportation evaluates, including traffic volume, crashes and proximity of school and railroad crossings.

The required amount of traffic volume for an intersection to warrant a traffic signal is determined on a case-by-case basis, said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT.

Volume is measured in four- or eight-hour windows; peak or rush hour volume on a daily basis is also examined.

Traffic advisers assign a minimum volume required for an intersection to receive a light. That list is available by contacting the DOT at 404-631-1990.

Crashes that may have been prevented by a traffic signal also are considered.

If there have been five T-bone crashes in the past 12 months, traffic advisers will research the location. T-bones crashes are the only ones a traffic signal would prevent, according to the DOT.

Other factors considered include pedestrian volume and the proximity of school crossings and railroad crossings.

An intersection does not have to meet all of the above requirements to receive a signal, but it should meet at least two.

Local governments, metropolitan planning organizations or DOT engineers may submit intersections for consideration.

If a traffic light meets the requirements and is on a city or county road, the local government will “make the final determination on whether a signal is warranted” in that area, according to the Georgia DOT fact sheet for traffic processes.

If the road is a state route, the DOT Traffic Operations Division in Atlanta will make the final decision.

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