Louisiana's First Adaptive Traffic Signal System Now Operating

The state partnered with Sasol to install it to manage traffic during the construction of the company’s e Ethane Cracker and Derivatives Project and other industrial activity in Westlake.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) recently announced it has implemented the first adaptive traffic signal system in the state in Westlake in Calcasieu Parish. The system, installed in partnership with Sasol, an energy and chemicals company that is building an ethane cracker and derivatives petrochemical complex, helps to manage traffic resulting from construction of that project and other industrial activity in the area. It consists of six signals along the La. 378 corridor.

"The system adjusts the traffic signal timings based on actual traffic demand and helps reduce the amount of congestion. It enhances safety, reduces delays and shortens travel times for drivers, and it's something DOTD would like to see implemented in many other areas across the state," said Dr. Shawn D. Wilson, secretary of the department. "This adaptive traffic signal system is a technologically advanced traffic control configuration that will be beneficial to the traveling public who utilize this corridor."

Communications are collected on a server at DOTD that runs algorithms to determine the amount of green time needed for each approach at each intersection and the amount of time required to keep progression through the intersections. The new timings are instantly uploaded back to the controllers and are run with the next light cycle.

According to the department, the $1.2 million system is only part of the roadway improvements Sasol has made in the Westlake area. The company has worked with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the city of Westlake to improve several other intersections with traffic signals, turn lanes, signage, and striping, all of which represents an investment of about $40 million in local infrastructure improvements.

"We recognize that construction of our project is generating additional traffic in the area and, since the beginning, we have been committed to working with local stakeholders to implement mitigation strategies," said Mike Thomas, senior vice president of Sasol North American Operations. "Sasol is proud to have been part of implementing this technology for the first time in Louisiana."