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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Transportation Project to Improve Traffic Flow and Clear the Air

January 24, 2005

Civil and Environmental Engineering's Dr. Melanie Sattler is leading a research project that should aid motorists and help the Dallas-Fort Worth area meet new air pollution standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The project will measure emission reductions associated with synchronized traffic signals.

Dr. Melanie Sattler, an air pollution specialist, is the lead investigator on the project, “On-road Measurements of Air Quality Benefits: Traffic Signal Improvements.” She is being assisted by Dr. Steve Mattingly, a transportation specialist, and four graduate students. Over the course of a year, the team will take “before-and-after” air samples along four corridors in Arlington and Grand Prairie: Cooper, from Abram to Mansfield; Abram, from Cooper to Texas 360; Collins, from Abram to Bardin; and Great Southwest Parkway, from Division to south of IH-20. “Before” measurements on Great Southwest Parkway have been completed and changes to traffic signal timing should take place in February.

“Most pollutants occur as a vehicle is accelerating,” said Dr. Sattler. “Synchronized signals will allow traffic to move at a more constant speed, thereby reducing the amount of harmful emissions. The problem is accurately measuring how much reductions have taken place. We’re using a van outfitted with several pieces of equipment to gather and analyze tailpipe air samples and a GPS receiver to accurately determine where and when the samples were taken.” Measurements will also be taken using a standard sedan; all measurements will take place during both peak and off-peak traffic situations. The study should yield information of what region-wide benefits could be achieved through traffic signal retiming.

The one-year project is part of a thoroughfare assessment program by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and is supported by a grant from the Texas Air Resources Center.

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