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ODOT drone survey brings signal timing changes to area around Pearl Road, I-480

Posted at 2:24 PM, Nov 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-28 18:18:25-05

BROOKLYN, Ohio — A recent drone survey by the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center (UAS) led to traffic signal changes done by the City of Brooklyn in an effort to mitigate frequent traffic logjams in the area, especially around peak times.

Earlier this month, ODOT launched a drone to provide a bird’s eye view of the busy commercial corridor that serves residents of Cleveland, Parma and Brooklyn. Approximately 50,000 vehicles use both directions of Ridge Road on any given day. During the evening rush, traffic exiting from I-480 westbound onto Ridge Road often backs up onto the highway, presenting obvious safety concerns.

The drone video confirmed that, highlighting the need to make changes to the timing of the traffic signals, according to Brent Kovacs, the public information officer for ODOT District 12. The drone also provided a view that traffic experts would not normally be able to obtain.

“A drone can get that bird’s eye view, an aerial view, of what’s really going on in that intersection and what’s going on with the traffic signals on Ridge Road to see what is maybe causing that backup in the exit ramp,” Kovacs said. “You would need a marathon runner or someone running from the ramp to all the traffic signals on Ridge Road to see it. It’s really hard to get that overview picture without the use of the drone.”

After reviewing the drone footage, ODOT relayed the results to the city of Brooklyn who then contacted its traffic signal vendor to change the signal timings, Kovacs said. The changes had positive results almost immediately, officials said.

“All the signals have the same timing basically allowing the right amount of green time for the most motor vehicles to get through at all points in the intersection,” Kovacs said. “We’re just trying to get as much traffic through there as easy as possible.”

Kovacs said the traffic signal changes are minor but can provide significant relief. However, reviews are underway to find a more permanent solution to the corridor.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency will bring STOP (Signal Timing Optimization Program) to Ridge Road next year. More permanent signal upgrades could come in 2021. NOACA implemented signal upgrades on Pearl Road in Parma, Parma Heights and Middleburg Heights last year, significantly reducing delays and lowering fuel consumption.

For the time being, Kovacs said traffic is moving with greater efficiency.

“This drone gives us a baseline of what we’re looking for,” Kovacs said. “The signal changes are really a minor change that can have a big impact.”