UNIVERSITY PARK -- Equipment for a high-tech pilot program designed to speed traffic along congested University Parkway may be on its way after final plans were OK'd by state transportation agency officials.
"We've been told we'll be getting the equipment in three weeks or so," Carolyn Eastwood, interim county engineer for Sarasota County, said Monday.
The Florida Department of Transportation, which is partnering with Sarasota and Manatee counties on the project, has OK'd signed agreements to supply high-tech devices called InSync Traffic Signal Adaptive System and BlueTOAD, Bluetooth technology-based travel time/speed measurement devices, respectively, according to Robin Stublen, FDOT communications specialist.
Installation along University Parkway should be complete within 120 days from the date the equipment is received, said Eastwood.
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FDOT will pay for the equipment, which will cost up to $497,250 for Sarasota County and up to $161,654 for Manatee County, according to county documents.
Installation costs are to be paid by each county individually with Sarasota's tab at $211,221 and Manatee's at $80,000, according to Eastwood and Sage Kamiya, Manatee County deputy director for traffic management.
Three intersections in Manatee and 15 in Sarasota will be part of the project, county documents said.
Manatee County now uses a time-based program to control traffic lights based on a set time of day, also taking into account volume and speed. If there's a big change, the signals don't automatically change to take care of it, the Herald has previously reported. The InSync system will be able to adjust signal timing in response to "real time" traffic demands based on parameters provided by the county's engineering staff, said Kamiya.
"This pilot project is anticipated to provide increased efficiency in operating the traffic signals," said Kamiya. "How well this project performs will in part be reported by the Blue TOAD devices as they collect anonymous travel time and average speeds for the roadway. We're hopeful the travel time will be improved, and will only know by how much after the system has been in place and sufficient travel time data has been collected."
The new equipment will be carefully monitored by observers at the Traffic Management Center at the Manatee County Public Safety Center, officials have said previously.
With the recent addition of The Mall at University Town Center, the Nathan Benderson Park multisport facility and a boom in new businesses along University Parkway, officials are seeking solutions to gridlock. A multimillion-dollar reconstruction of the interchange at Interstate 75 and University Parkway, to begin next summer, may also pose additional difficulties for drivers.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.