In the News | How an Engineering Company Worked with St. Johns County to Save Drivers Money

Article by: Kaitlyn McCue | Jacksonville Business Journal | Click HERE to view the full article.

St. Johns County recently partnered with England-Thims & Miller Inc. on a project to reduce commute time for drivers, as well as save money associated with fuel costs and travel time.

ETM, which has worked with the county for more than 20 years, retimed traffic signals of nine intersections on International Golf Parkway and Pacetti Road, reducing travel times by an average of 24% and the overall delay by 58%. The project is expected to save travelers more than $3.4 million in travel time and fuel costs annually.

The corridor project, located near Buc-ee’s and Costco, has recently added and revised multiple traffic signals. ETM first collected data over the course of a one-week period to determine peak hours of traffic and congestion using video surveillance and software studies of the area.

According to the St. Johns public works department, the area was chosen due to noticeable delays in traffic, as well as individuals calling in with complaints. After the retiming was completed though, the office is reportedly getting calls from the public noting better traffic flow in the corridor.

ETM used multiple softwares to focus in on individual intersections, signals and the corridor as a whole to determine the best timing of the traffic signals at each intersection.

“There are a lot of locations out there where you get a green light and then by the time you come up to the next intersection, it turns red. We want to avoid that and make it as efficient as possible,” ETM Senior Traffic Engineer Mark Manwell said.

All of this data collection and retiming of traffic lights at individual intersections work toward a few main goals: save time, and ultimately money, for drivers.

“What we’re trying to accomplish here is that once we get a motorist on a main road instead of a side street, we keep them moving for longer,” Manwell said.

Generally, the cost of a retiming project like this is roughly $10,000 per intersection, making this particular corridor project a roughly $100,000 investment by St. Johns County. But Manwell says that the ultimate cost savings can be millions over the next few years, making the cost-benefit ratio well worth it for the county.

Typically, the retiming of a signal remains highly efficient for a few years at a time, with revisits to the area and traffic needed roughly every five years to make sure everything runs as smoothly as it did in the first year.

The public works department says it periodically looks for county corridors for retiming, and are currently considering County Road 210, Racetrack Road, and County Road 2209 as other potential projects.