Adaptive Traffic Signal Technology

What are adaptive traffic signals?


In the simplest terms, adaptive signal technology uses fiber technology to adjust the timing of traffic lights in real-time to control the flow of traffic and reduce travel times. Hudson has a unique challenge when it comes to traffic, since SR 91 cannot be widened and creating bypasses around the city would impact businesses that rely on customers traveling through town.

Hudson’s current traffic timing system is programmed based on manual traffic studies. It does not adapt to immediate circumstances such as accidents or lane closures. With adaptive signal technology, data is received and processed from sensors in real-time to optimize signal timing to accommodate changing traffic patterns as they occur.  

Each signal talks to the others, notifying the system when a backup occurs.  The signals change to let backed up traffic through and clear out intersections all along the system to keep traffic moving. Adaptive signal technology reduces congestion, improves traffic times and improves safety.

Signal Locations - Click on Map to Enlarge

Hudson Signal Locations Map

TMS Study Documents

What are the Benefits of Adaptive Signals?


With adaptive signal technology, traffic signals communicate with each other. The system immediately recognizes a traffic back up and takes steps to adjust signal timing to move traffic through congested intersections. Adaptive signals:

  • Move traffic faster with fewer stops.
  • Increase safety by reducing stops (and the potential for rear-end collisions).
  • Adjust traffic in real-time to minimize traffic tie-ups due to accidents, lane-closures or downed trees.
  • Reduce vehicle emissions by decreasing idling time.
Examples of adaptive signal technology in Ohio can be seen in Brunswick, Westlake, Avon, and Beachwood, among others. These cities showed a decrease in travel times and better traffic flow with the new adaptive technology.

Council Is Considering Implementing Adaptive Signal Technology


A study performed by TMS Engineers, Inc. estimated that by improving the timing and updating equipment on our current traffic signals, Hudson could see a 15% decrease in travel time, with an additional 15% decrease with the installation of adaptive signals (for a total of 30%).  Not only would travel times decrease, it would help reduce the number of stops and improve safety.  

Three options/levels were presented to Council for consideration. 

  • Lowest Cost Improvements: Improve 14 intersection signals in the downtown, without using adaptive signal technology. This would require City funding at a cost of approximately $103,000 and could be done immediately.
  • Medium Cost Improvements:  Install new adaptive signal technology at 14 intersections downtown. The cost would be approximately $980,000. This option would include all items in the low-cost improvements option.
  • Higher Cost Improvements: Install adaptive signal technology in the City’s 23 traffic signals. The total cost would be approximately $2,500,000, a conservative number.  Some of the cost for the medium-cost improvements would be included in this scenario.
The City would apply for grant funding to help offset the total cost for the medium and higher price options, reducing the cost to the City.  

Council is considering moving forward on the downtown area low-cost improvements quickly and pursuing the adaptive signal options once the initial modifications to the system are underway.