Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
The award-winning Adaptive Traffic Control System has cut delays 10 to 20 percent on Foothill Boulevard and four other congested corridors.

And the Award Goes to … Synched Traffic Lights, “Qwick Kurbs” and Roger San Juan!
by  Kelly Markham
Issue Date: 11/2009

Projects that relieve traffic and improve safety nab transportation awards. Roger San Juan is recognized for his service to the film community.

Automated System Keeps Motorists Moving

Traffic is flowing more smoothly on Foothill Boulevard these days. Delays are reduced. Congestion is down. Motorist griping has plummeted.

Credit goes to District 7’s new Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS), which received an Outstanding Civil Engineering Award in October from the Los Angeles Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers. District 7 shared the award with its partner on the project, Minagar & Associates.

The $14-million ATCS project, which targeted five highly congested corridors, uses traditional signals, existing networks and new software to control traffic flow. It works like this: Loop detectors in the road send traffic volume data to a central server. The new software then uses the data to automatically modify the timing of signals at 190 intersections. The software looks not only at individual intersections but at all intersections as a system. The result is that motorists hit fewer red lights, and get where they’re going faster.

“This is the first time a system like this has been used on a corridor-wide basis, and it’s been successful,” said Traffic Design Office Chief Ali Zaghari. “Delays are down by 10 to 20 percent.”
The success of the project in District 7 may encourage other districts to implement similar systems.

"Qwick Kurbs" Cut Collisions

If you’ve ever accessed I-10 (the Santa Monica Freeway) between Vermont and Arlington avenues, you may have noticed black tire marks on the raised islands between the collector road and the freeway. Each of these telltale marks represents a motorist who attempted to enter the freeway (or the collector road) by going over the island rather than around it. Usually these incidents happened at night when visibility is reduced.

District 7’s “Qwick Kurb” project effectively addressed the problem of nighttime island hoppers. The $3.3-million project was recognized with an Honorable Mention as part of the 2009 National Roadway Safety Awards.

“We installed new, flexible channelizers – Qwick Kurbs – to make the islands more conspicuous, especially at night and in inclement weather,” said Senior Transportation Engineer Yunus Ghausi.

The Qwick Kurbs seem to be working. “The accident history analysis before and after the installation is encouraging,” said Ghausi. Injury accidents have dropped 35 percent since the Qwick Kurbs were installed.

Staff will continue to monitor the project to determine whether the reduction persists long term. In the meantime, the project is proving to be a cost-effective strategy for improving safety on one of the most congested freeways in the nation.

Roger San Juan Wins On Location Award

If you’re making a movie, commercial or television show and you want to film on a California freeway or other Caltrans-owned property, Roger San Juan is a good man to know. San Juan is one of Caltrans’ film permit coordinators, the people who decide when and where the cameras will roll.

San Juan’s efforts have earned him not only the respect of the film community, but also an On Location Award from Film Liaisons in California Statewide (FLICS). FLICS honored San Juan with the State Public Employee of the Year Award at its annual awards gala on October 15. The award recognizes exemplary performance in facilitating on-location filming.

Part of what makes San Juan so good at his job is his breadth of experience. He has worked in Design, Construction, Surveys and Traffic, and he understands how a closure will impact the entire system. That insight informs his permitting decisions, and allows him to develop creative strategies that address the needs of filmmakers while limiting impacts on motorists. For example, he won’t issue a permit to shut down the Harbor Freeway (SR-110) at 5 p.m., but he might allow a rolling break assisted by the California Highway Patrol at 1 a.m.

“I think it’s important to keep the film industry in California, and I do my best to accommodate them,” said San Juan. “But we’re not a backlot. We have to minimize any inconvenience to motorists. It’s a fine line, and I try to find the right balance.”

This is screenshot of ATCS software. The software uses traffic data collected by loop detectors to automatically modify the timing of signals at  intersections. “Qwick Kurb” delineators were installed on I-10 to prevent motorists from crossing the islands between the collector road and the freeway. The highly visible “Qwick Kurb” channelizers have reduced injury accidents 35 percent since they were installed. Film Permit Coordinator Roger San Juan was named State Public Employee of the Year by Film Liaisons in California Statewide.