Local management center determines strategy behind city's street lights

Transportation Infrastructure and Management Center has city running smoothly

SAN ANTONIO – Lights, roads and traffic -- if you drive around San Antonio, your commute is most likely as simple as stop or go but to every traffic signal, detour and school zone, there is a strategy.

There are 1,400 traffic signals and 1,000 school flashers in the Alamo City and there is a team to monitor them. Marc Jacobson is the interim assistant city engineer, a very important part of that team. Here's what he had to say:

Q: What exactly does your team here do?

A: “We manage everything out there on the street that lights up or blinks. We are responsible for the design, the operation and the maintenance of all the devices,” Jacobson said.

Part of that management is making sure our roads run smoothly.

“If we know of an incident or a report of slow traffic in the area, we can use cameras to see what’s causing a problem and dispatch appropriate staff,” Jacobson said.

There are 200 traffic cameras at designated intersections that send information to the team's headquarters. These cameras pick up everything from broken equipment to accidents. 

“We work with our other crews to make sure we have appropriate staff on hand for barricade operations deal with low water crossings and thing like that,” Jacobson said.


Q: One thing people don’t realize helps out city’s traffic flow is a popular navigation app, what does Waze do for our roads?

A: “The Waze app is constantly feeding data about how traffic is moving on the roadways so when you’re using the Waze app, you’re providing us information about congestion and incidents that are going on,” Jacobson said.

Q: What distinguishes between the roads that are the city’s responsibility and TxDOT's?

A: “TxDOT is mostly responsible for the freeways in San Antonio. They’re also responsible for other roads in town as far as the pavement, like if there’s a pothole on Bandera, thats a TxDOT facility and they’d be the ones to repair it,” Jacobson said. 

Speaking of Bandera, it’s a roadway that causes the city frustration.

“You have roadways where the amount of traffic that wants to use that roadway is just more than the roadway can handle, and no matter what we do with signals, you’ll still have backups,” Jacobson said.

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