By James Robertson, Assistant Traffic Engineer
It’s not exactly a secret that traffic flow remains a dominant issue as College Station continues to expand.
One of our most heavily congested corridors is FM2818 (Harvey Mitchell Parkway) from Holleman Drive to George Bush Drive. Consequently, the surging traffic volume has led to a significant increase in crashes in that area.
The problem isn’t being ignored. Far from it.
College Station is working closely with other local agencies to reduce these incidents in both the long and short-term.
Long-term mitigation by the Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Texas Department of Transportation includes widening FM2818 and restricting turning movements at driveways. The City of College Station will join TxDOT – which maintains many of our roads, including 2818 – to conduct a public meeting about the widening project later this year.
In the short term, the College Station Public Works Department has pursued lower-cost operational changes that achieve three primary objectives:
- Decrease crashes at signalized intersections by installing protected-only green left-turn indications.
- Decrease left-turn lane waiting at FM2818 and Holleman by increasing green time for FM2818 left-turns.
- Decrease travel time along FM2818 between Bush and Holleman by increasing the green time for FM2818.
To achieve these objectives, our traffic signal technicians have worked with the city’s traffic engineering staff to implement and calibrate new signal timing plans. We’ve installed protected-only green left-turn arrows at the intersection of FM2818 with Holleman, Bush and Luther Drives.
Using Bluetooth readers installed as part of our Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan, we’ve seen substantial improvements in travel times along FM2818 between Bush and Holleman.
We measured peak morning and evening travel times on Sept. 7 – before the timings were installed – and again on Sept. 27 after installation. The following graphs show that cars are moving faster and the duration of slow traffic is shorter. In fact, the drive from Welsh to F&B Road at 8 a.m. was almost 6½ minutes faster. The drive from F&B to Holleman at 5:45 p.m. was about 3½ minutes better.
Evening Peak Data
Morning Peak Data
Calibrating the new signal timing plans has taken a couple of weeks, and we appreciate the public’s patience. Some of the changes we tried also caused problems in the morning peak time. We worked quickly to get those issues resolved.
The Traffic Engineering Division will continue to monitor travel times along this corridor and work with our partner agencies to improve mobility along this corridor and the entire system.
About the Blogger
James Robertson is in his fourth year as College Station’s assistant traffic engineer. He also did extensive graduate work with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute while attending Texas A&M, where he earned master’s (2011) and doctorate (2015) degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis on transportation. James received bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering from Michigan State (2008) and psychology from Notre Dame (2007).
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