For many people traveling through Lee’s Summit via Missouri 291, the worst part of the drive, until recently, was being forced to stop at nearly every single traffic light.

For many people traveling through Lee’s Summit via Missouri 291, the worst part of the drive, until recently, was being forced to stop at nearly every single traffic light.

Now, with a new signal timing system implemented by the Missouri Department of Transportation, drivers along the part of the highway between U.S. 50 and Interstate 470 are enjoying fewer stops, less gas consumption and improved travel times.

This new traffic signal system coordinated 12 traffic signals through the 2.5-mile city corridor to improve traffic flow. A recent evaluation by an independent research company shows average travel time from one end of Lee’s Summit to the other has decreased an impressive 30 percent. As far as cost, employing it along M-291 was found to be comparable to most video-detection systems found at any given traffic signal. The system was implemented in March. A full statistical analysis will be performed after a final study is completed in September.

The system was shown to reduce fuel consumption an average of 25 percent and decrease exhaust emissions significantly. Motorists saw a considerable decrease in the number of stops – as much as 95 percent during some time periods.

Another positive result of the new system is that it has allowed Lee’s Summit law enforcement to focus its efforts on other parts of the city because of the decrease in traffic signal incidents along M-291 – such as red-light running. It’s also expected that the number of collisions at each intersection will decrease. With the undeniable improvements along M-291, MoDOT is working with the city to help implement the new system along some of the busier city streets to improve congestion. 

 So how does this new system work, that it can make such dramatic changes? First, it uses video to evaluate the volume and flow of traffic. As vehicles move toward each signal, traffic signals adapt to the amount of traffic flow and keep a large group of vehicles moving through each intersection with minimal disruption to side streets.

I am requesting that MoDOT also take steps to implement this system in other locations, such as along Missouri 7 in Blue Springs. The initial data clearly show that drivers across Eastern Jackson County could benefit from its use.