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Dallas Mulls Plan To Upgrade Traffic Lights

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Stephanie Lucero
Stephanie is an Emmy Award winning veteran reporter for CBS 11 N...
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A traffic light controls the flow of vehicles and pedestrians. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If you find yourself slowly moving between traffic lights every morning, you are certainly not alone. But officials in Dallas on Wednesday are discussing spending some serious money on changing your commute.

Right now, the city only replaces street lights after they collapse or break. The Dallas Department of Street Services, however, wants to change that. Staffers are proposing a program that would regularly upgrade the lights before they fail. The concern is that 80 percent of the city’s traffic lights are at least 25 years old and do not meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In other words, a large majority of the street lights in Dallas are prone to collapse or more likely to short out during nasty weather.

The proposed plan calls for $10 million each year, used to replace 60 traffic signals annually and add mounted radar detectors that can more easily be fixed or replaced.

Not everyone is keen on the idea. “I’m not up for spending money just to make these nicer to look at,” said one driver on Tuesday.

But there are plenty of people who are eager to see a smoother commute. “Our taxes should go toward something,” said another driver. Even most Dallas City Council members support the overhaul.

The city’s system of sensors embedded in the pavement is also failing. The sensors should recognize when traffic is backing up and then adjust the signal timing accordingly. But city staffers said that 70 percent of those sensors are broken, leading to congestion on the road and frustrated drivers.

The plan would ultimately spend about a quarter of a billion dollars over the next 25 years in order to fix every traffic light issue. There are nearly 1,500 traffic lights in Dallas. The exact amount of money spent would be determined by the city council when they tackle the budget next summer.

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