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Driving You Crazy: Why is the light on green for 17th at Dayton so short and on Dayton so long?

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Posted at 5:44 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2021-08-30 08:01:31-04

Joyce from Aurora writes, “What’s driving you crazy? The east/west bound light at 17th and Dayton changes so fast!! It literally last less than 5 seconds!! Meanwhile the north/south bound lane last about 3 minutes. And why are there no left signals at Peoria and 17th? With the volume of traffic from Anschutz campus during morning and afternoon rush hour, this is really needed.”

Cities initially time traffic lights based on observed traffic flow. Sometimes traffic flow changes, especially in high growth areas like that part of north Aurora. I timed the lights at E. 17th Avenue and Dayton Street for about a half hour one morning and took an average of those times. The average green light time for 17th Ave was 19 seconds. The average green light time for Dayton was about 58 seconds. I asked Carlie Campuzano, the City of Aurora’s traffic manager about these two specific intersections and the timing of the lights at 17th and Dayton.

“The traffic signal timing at this intersection was developed to coordinate traffic on Dayton Street, with secondary priority to 17th Avenue traffic. Depending on the time of day, the cycle length (the length of time it takes to serve every movement) varies from 80 seconds to 105 seconds, which means that no movement has to wait longer than two minutes for a green light. When 17th Avenue gets a green light, it stays green for a minimum of four seconds and stays green longer if cars are present and moving on 17th Ave through the intersection.”

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I also took a look at the intersection of 17th and Peoria. You are right about more traffic moving around the Anschutz campus, but traffic seemed to move well when I was out there. Carlie Campuzano, the City of Aurora’s traffic manager says this about installing a turn arrow at 17th and Peoria.

“For left-turn arrows to be installed at this intersection, the traffic signal control equipment needs to be replaced. The existing mast arms are not long enough to mount the left-turn signal heads in the correct location per standards, and the traffic signal poles are an older design, impacting the ability to support additional weight that would be added with a new signal head. To address this issue, the City obtained Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) grant funding to reconstruct this traffic signal. Engineering design plans have already been created that will replace the signal equipment, upgrade the controller (computer) at the intersection, install left-turn arrows in all directions, and upgrade the curb ramps. These plans are currently going through the grant’s review process. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.”

Before the pandemic, the city of Aurora was going through the process to determine what traffic lights around the city might need a change in the timing. However, the change in traffic patterns and traffic volume since Covid-19 has affected that data and could result in the need for another traffic study in the future as traffic patterns shift and change.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.