Las Vegas $2 million urban traffic improvements

  • April 19, 2023
  • William Payne

Southern Nevada is planning $2 million of traffic and urban mobility improvements to the City of Las Vegas. The improvements include prototyping a cloud-based system for optimising traffic signalling to support emergency vehicles and buses, and AI-based analytics at intersections within the City of Las Vegas. The new technologies are aimed at increasing safety, reducing pollution and improving travel times for emergency vehicles and public transport.

The programme will be managed by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), which is earmarked to receive $2 million in federal funding as part of the US Department of Transportation’s inaugural Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionising Transportation (SMART) grant programme to advance transportation safety and efficiency.

Emergency vehicle pre-emption and artificial intelligence intersection analytics will be studied in an area that encompasses central Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Medical District. The area includes six fire station service areas and University Medical Centre, which is the only Level 1 Trauma Centre in the state of Nevada.

Emergency vehicle pre-emption adjusts the timing of traffic lights at intersections to provide priority to approaching emergency vehicles, allowing them to pass safely and quickly. While emergency vehicle pre-emption is not new, technological advancements have safer and more reliable systems with improved response times for emergency responders and those they are serving. A cloud-based emergency vehicle pre-emption system will allow for a deployment that does not require the installation of extra in-vehicle hardware or traffic signal equipment.

Intersection analytics uses video from the cameras along with advanced computing through artificial intelligence to monitor traffic conditions and movements at intersections to collect data related to safety concerns, such as near-misses and red-light running. This information is fed into the software platform and will help the RTC and City of Las Vegas better understand potentially unsafe driving patterns and develop specific proactive measures.

Transit signal priority, which will be tested along a portion of Charleston Boulevard, detects approaching buses and may extend the green time to help them get through signalised intersections. This corridor is ideal for transit signal priority testing as it includes RTC transit route 206, which has the third highest ridership in the region with more than 4.1-million trips in 2019. Implementing transit signal priority in a key transit corridor will allow vehicles to better adhere to the route schedule and improve reliability, ultimately making transit service more dependable for current riders and attractive to potential customers.

“The RTC is committed to engaging in innovative ways to improve transportation efficiency and safety on our roadways,” said RTC CEO MJ Maynard. “This funding secured by our federal delegation will allow us to prototype a smart traffic signal programme that will support improved emergency vehicle response times, faster transit service, and improved safety on our roads through artificial intelligence. We thank our federal delegation for their continued support of these crucial transportation projects that will enhance the quality of life for Southern Nevada residents and visitors.”

The bipartisan Infrastructure Law, otherwise known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, established the SMART discretionary grant programme to provide $100 million annually in grants to support demonstration projects that advance smart transportation technologies. This year, $94 million in grants has been awarded to 59 projects within 33 states. RTC was the only agency in Southern Nevada to receive a SMART grant. 

The pilot project is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete. An additional $1 million in funding is being allocated by the RTC to ensure that the scope of this first phase can be expanded in the future on a regional level across Southern Nevada.