County of Brant Council unanimously approved the implementation of AI (artificial intelligence) vehicular sensor technology for two signalized intersections at their Administration and Operations Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
The report stated that the intersection of Grand River Street North at William Street in Paris, and the intersection of King Street/Colborne Street West at Bishopsgate Road near Burford, while operating effectively and efficiently during the studied time periods, delays are being experienced periodically.
Staff recommended a pilot AI vehicular sensor technology that will help to improve the traffic movements and reduce vehicle emissions at these intersections during peak times.
The integrated system will monitor each signal cycle and will adapt to both the minimum and maximum time period per phase by collecting real-time data and adjusting itself as needed.
“It’s going to slightly change the cycles of the of the lights and optimize what’s happening to deal with the traffic that’s there,” said Rob Walton, General Manager of Operations for the County of Brant. “So, if you have a light that’s not being used the time it will actually shorten that light and it can lengthen the light too. I think this is the last thing we can really do there without doing major improvements which are not in the in the books at this time to be considered.”
Greg Demers, Director of Roads, further described how the technology will make these adjustments.
“AI technology will only make recommendations and changes within what is approved through the OTM (Ontario Traffic Manual),” he said. “It’s all going to be within what is permitted through best recommendations and it will pick up the traffic. If the north-south has heavier flow that day, it will tack on extra seconds for those areas so they can queue faster. With this technology, when positioned correctly and the road alignments are correct, it will be able to look 500 ft down the road to see what queuing act is actually taking place, so it will be able to really optimize traffic movement. If we get a butter tart festival or we get something that is out of the ordinary, this will make real time decisions in the field and start adjusting traffic for what’s happening at the time.”
Demers noted that while the AI technology will help to improve traffic flow on a daily basis, there will still be some congestion during large festivals, though it will help to move the traffic more efficiently.
Councillor John Bell wondered if there were any other options that Council could utilize such as removing angled parking in the Paris downtown.
Walton confirmed that staff are working towards that project in 2025 but currently, this is the last option that staff could utilize without making drastic expensive changes, such as adding more turning lanes that could cost up to $3 million.
Councillors also discussed topics such as signage that can be viewed from farther away, as well as, working to stop vehicles from ignoring signage.
Both intersections will cost $50,000 each to implement the new AI technology and funds are available in the 2023 Operating and Capital Budget and the 2023 Upgrade Traffic Signal budget.