City of Sugar Land expands its adaptive traffic management system


The City Council of Sugar Land, a growing suburb of Houston in Texas, has approved more than US$846,000 of expenditure to expand existing adaptive traffic signal control and wireless vehicle detection systems at intersections throughout the city.

The project is part of an ongoing effort to improve mobility along major thoroughfares through Sugar Land, including State Highway 6, US Highway 90A, and University Boulevard. The technology enables traffic engineers at the state-of-the-art Sugar Land Traffic Management Center to capture real-time traffic data at signalized intersections and automatically optimize traffic signal timing cycles at identified intersections in an effort to increase traffic flow through the city based on current traffic conditions. This data, which measures current traffic conditions, is used by adaptive software to continuously optimize traffic signal timings in an effort to increase traffic flow and decrease travel times on some of the city’s busiest roadways.

The project builds on past efforts and provides a foundation for future traffic initiatives identified in Sugar Land’s Intelligent Transportation System Operations Plan, which is updated every four to five years to identify opportunities to improve mobility. The 2014 plan outlined a four-year capital improvement program and subsequent projects for each fiscal year starting in 2015. Since the inception of the capital program, completed projects have:

• Improved traffic signal detection;

• Added essential traffic data gathering capabilities;

• Upgraded the school beacon system;

• Improved the city’s ITS website to help motorists with travel information;

• Optimized traffic signal timing on major corridors within the city;

• Upgraded traffic controllers with latest hardware/software;

• Implemented adaptive signal control on SH 6.

The majority of the equipment deployed in Sugar Land has been developed and manufactured by Trafficware Inc, which is based in the city. The technology includes the company’s wireless Valence Pod Detection System, which are installed in the pavement at intersections to measure traffic volumes and allow the adaptive traffic management platform to make real-time adjustments to signals based on demand.

“This ongoing project builds on two previous projects. We plan to expand the technology to another 25 major intersections along two more corridors, and install 590 more pods to help improve detection reliability, traffic operations and help plan and design a better traffic network,” explained Sugar Land’s director of public works, Robert Valenzuela.

“All these projects have brought benefits such as improved travel times on major corridors, real-time/historic traffic data which assists staff in making operation decisions, better sharing of traffic information to motorists, and a more reliable/self-reporting school beacon system.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).