In a continuing and growing partnership designed to ease worsening traffic conditions as a result of “amazing and remarkable growth,” representatives from the City of College Station, The Texas A&M University System and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) detailed the city’s new traffic management plan — funded in part by a large donation from the System — during a news conference June 26.
“Chancellor [John] Sharp has provided $1 million from The Texas A&M University System to help upgrade traffic signals, control mechanisms and monitoring technology necessary for effectively managing the influx of traffic into College Station,” announced Billy Hamilton, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer for the System.
The donation comes with the guidance and expertise of TTI researchers, who will support the city’s implementation of its $4.75 million Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan. The plan includes technology like traffic signal controllers, pan-tilt-zoom cameras, and roadway sensors to help manage the increased demand on the local transportation system.
“All the major routes in town will have monitoring equipment that will sync up with what the A&M Transportation Services has in terms of its cameras and monitoring systems,” said TTI Research Fellow Tim Lomax, a widely recognized expert on traffic congestion and mobility improvement strategies. “Those two systems and agencies will be able to talk each other. Now we’ll have a system that can really find and react to problems faster—and have a better plan on how to tell the public about it.”
Lomax headed up Texas A&M’s Kyle Filed Transportation Project last year, which was successful in easing the congestion in and out of College Station during football games. More people were able to attend the games thanks to an expanded Kyle Field, while more efficiently exiting the area thanks to the project.
“On game day, the size of the crowd at Kyle Field makes College Station have the 4th largest downtown in the state of Texas,” TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen told reporters. “All of those people want to leave at the same time with no freeways. It’s a challenge but we have made huge progress working together to make it happen.”
Officials emphasized that the city’s traffic management plan will not just help ease mobility during game days or other big events; everyday commuters will experience “more predictable traffic time and less frustration.” They told reporters that College Station may be the smallest city in the country to have a traffic management system of this type.
College Station City Manager Kelly Templin told local media that many of the elements of the new system are already in place and will be operational by the end of the summer or early fall. He pointed out that the system will continue to evolve and will become more effective as new elements are added and technology improves.
“We are really at the starting line,” Templin said. “I think you are going to see those impacts and improvements over time. I don’t think people realize how privileged we are to have [TTI] in our town.”