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Lenexa, KS: An unusual partnership for a faster, safer and greener region

Kansas and Missouri are famous for their intertwined highways and roads. Nobody quite knows when one leaves one to enter the other. When the Middle America Regional Council (MARC) embarked on an ambitious intelligent transportation plan, it meant dealing with multiple stakeholders, counties, cities and towns, across state border lines.

This is not the only specificity of Operation Green Light (OGL): driven by a not-for-profit organization, this operation focuses on corridors of traffic, as opposed to intersections for many other smart traffic projects.


Smart traffic is only part of the system


In the Kansas City area, MARC spent $13 million on those corridors, to put in place cameras, sensors and traffic signals that control the flow of traffic and adjust traffic lights in real time.

One exemplary implementation is the city of Lenexa, in the Kansas City suburbs. As Steve Schooley, Transportation Manager for the city, explained: “When we started, we quickly realized that the new network needed for the smart traffic could actually become a multi-application system”. So during the initial phase, the Transportation Department spoke with the Police, the emergency responders, the street maintenance teams. Consultations with all parties involved, including the city IT department for protection of the network led to the definition of a flexible solution (using both wired and wireless equipments and hybrid communication networks) that benefited from different funding sources: State of Kansas ITS Fund, and City of Lenexa traffic impact fee Fund as well as other city sources.


Beyond the cameras, the actual “green”


Today, 35 cameras are in the field, monitoring 60 traffic signals. The estimated cost per signal is around $9,000 to 10,000. Breaking down the cost of the investment in rough segments, the city estimates a third of spending on cameras, a third on traffic signals and a third on communications. With the broadband wireless technology provided by Alvarion and implemented by Rhythm Engineering, the original cost was maintained to the lowest possible level, with deployment reduced to a few days.

But beyond those numbers, OGL has very compelling “green” attributes: in the US, 70 to 90% of the 330,000 traffic lights are not synchronized. Consequences: billion of hours and gallons of gas wasted in traffic congestion, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars to the American economy. The spectacular savings in time, gas consumption and emissions measured in Lenexa dynamically synchronizing just few traffic lights show the way to a more efficient and greener transportation network.

For more on Lenexa and Operation Green Light, please download the one-hour webinar held on June 9, 2009 with presentations by Ray Webb (MARC), Steve Schooley (City of Lenexa), Reggie Chandra (Rhythm Engineering), Dan Karr (ETI) and Avi Chabtay (Alvarion):


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• Francisco Levya, Project Manager, Transportation Dept, Tucson AZ

• WEBINAR: Lessons Learned from Wireless Video Monitoring for Dynamic Traffic Light Synchronization as part of Operation GreenLight in Lenexa (KS)


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