Signal Spotlight: Adapt, Abide and Persist


Signal Spotlight: Adapt, Abide and Persist

This year has been one for the books! We’ve all been forced to adapt, abide, and persist. Public works employees faced new social distancing guidelines that changed the way they work and responded to several severe storms that brought downed trees and widespread power outages throughout the state. The entire T2 team has been working virtually since March, meeting on Zoom and pushing to disseminate timely COVID-19-related information to municipalities through its listservs and the Connecticut Crossroads newsletter.

The Traffic Signal Circuit Rider program contributed articles on virtual public engagement and the changes being made to traffic signal systems during COVID-19, as well as promoting the  CTDOT-led “Bump the Button” campaign to encourage pedestrians not to press push buttons with their hands.

It’s said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and this has proven true throughout all industries during the pandemic. For its part, the change in circumstances encouraged the T2 Center to venture into new formats for delivering training.

In April, the Traffic Signal Circuit Rider program hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on Hot Topics for Signal Professionals during COVID-19. Several towns participated in a webinar series via Zoom on Creating a Traffic Signal Management Plan. The program also began developing on-demand recordings. Currently, Basics of Traffic Signal Operations and MUTCD Traffic Signal Warrants are offered in an on-demand format.


Looking to the future, the Traffic Signal Circuit Rider program is partnering with the Safety Circuit Rider program to offer a “Coffee and Conversation” series on timely traffic signal and roadway safety topics. We are also in the process of developing a comprehensive traffic signal technician certificate program and look forward to offering training in the new year.

I want to thank FHWA, CTDOT, the program advisory committee and all those who have participated in the program for continuing to support our efforts throughout this difficult year. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, safe, and healthy new year.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact: Theresa Schwartz, P.E.,
P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider (860) 486-4535 or

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2020: A Year Where Safety Matters Everywhere


2020: A Year Where Safety Matters Everywhere

As 2020 wraps up, it seems fitting to take a look back at this extraordinary year and focus on some of the positives. When the year started, I was excited to dive further into my role as the Safety Circuit Rider, having been in the position for approximately five months at that point. The Safety Academy schedule was filled with learning opportunities for local agencies, and I was looking forward to those as well as working with locals on safety issues. Before any of that got underway, the pandemic forced us to reconsider how to move forward—if we even could. As it turned out, we were able to do much more than I imagined!

From a training perspective, the Safety Academy was able to offer six virtual courses for credit, with a total of eighty-four attendees. Three of those courses were opportunities shared with us by other Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs) throughout the country, for which we were extremely grateful! We also offered an additional in-person training: a revised Sign Installation and Maintenance course. This is now a two-hour “by request” course that is tailored to your town’s needs. Not only does this keep attendance to the required numbers during COVID, but it also ensures that your sign crew is getting information that is relevant to them.

Technical assistance proved to be a little trickier to coordinate, but with the cooperation of the municipalities that requested assistance, I was able to continue to make in-person visits while abiding by all the proper procedures. I visited twelve municipalities to provide assistance with safety concerns, either at a specific location or through a Road Safety Assessment, or to loan them equipment. With masks on and maintaining social distance, I was able to continue to provide services that were needed. This was especially important during this time, as the pandemic increased the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on local roads. At the same time, with less vehicular volume on the streets, speeds increased. Many municipalities reacted quickly and positively to these changes to address the needs of their residents.

Another positive outcome this year was the development of our Safety Matters Coffee and Conversation series. Bringing locals together virtually for a one-hour conversation with special guests has proven to be successful. Although we have only held two sessions, we are looking forward to continuing this series in 2021.

Of course, some adjustments did have to be made. Many meetings with towns and cities that I would have conducted in-person were done virtually. One of the biggest projects we undertook this year was to provide every municipality in the state with a crash profile “snapshot” of some data we thought might interest them. Eight of the ten meetings I had were conducted virtually. I also attended three COG meetings virtually to introduce myself and provide an update on the Safety Circuit Rider program. Although I would have preferred to meet face-to-face, as I am sure everyone else would have too, I was still happy to have been able to meet at all!

As the year winds down and we look towards a new one, I hope to continue building the relationships I have made with several municipalities and to make new connections. As always, I am here to help and look forward to working with you to make our local roads safe for all!

For information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at

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Signal Spotlight: Connected Snowplows Coming to Connecticut


Signal Spotlight: Connected Snowplows Coming to Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has two projects planned for the Berlin Turnpike corridor in Newington, Connecticut to replace outdated traffic signal equipment, install an adaptive signal control system with automated traffic signal performance measures, and introduce connected vehicles (CV) to the state highway system. Between the two projects, a total of 27 signalized intersections will be upgraded.

The projects are part of the SPaT Challenge, a challenge to state and local public sector transportation infrastructure owners and operators to deploy dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) infrastructure with Signal Phasing and Timing (SPaT) broadcasts in at least one corridor or network in each of the 50 states. More information on the SPaT Challenge can be found at

Along with installing new Advanced Traffic Control (ATC) controllers and fiber communications, the CTDOT plans to install roadside units (RSU) at each intersection to support vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) connected vehicle applications. One of the applications the CTDOT plans to implement is traffic signal priority for snowplows.

What are the benefits of snowplow priority?

When a snowplow must stop at a signalized intersection during plowing operations, this causes uneven application of snow removal chemicals and the plow blade must be raised to accelerate from a stop. Connected vehicle technologies are in their infancy, but there is hope that the technology will allow for more even application of material and reduce the time it takes to clear a road network. 

Traffic signal pre-emption for snowplows has been used with success in various jurisdictions. In St. Cloud Minnesota, for example, relative priority preemption reduced travel times for snowplows by an average of 22%.Snowplow drivers often work through the night with few breaks for meals and sleep, so getting plows off the roads faster can reduce the risks associated with drowsy driving.

What is traffic signal priority?

Traffic signal priority is a way to give priority to specific vehicles (typically transit vehicles) by altering signal timing to extend greens on identified phases, alter phase sequences, or include special phases. Unlike traffic signal pre-emption, which interrupts the normal signal cycle to accommodate special events like a fire truck responding to a call, traffic signal priority does not disrupt the coordination of green lights between adjacent intersections.

On-board units (OBUs) installed in the snowplow trucks will “talk” to the traffic signals, sending a vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) Signal Request Message to request priority. Once the traffic signal determines whether it can accommodate the request without impacting coordination with adjacent signals, the traffic signal will send an infrastructure to vehicle (I2V) message to inform the snowplow vehicle whether the request was accepted. Traffic signal priority typically involves adjusting the signal timing at an intersection for an approaching bus, or in this case, snowplow truck, to reduce the red time (early green or red truncation) or extend the green time (green extension).

To see how snowplow priority works, check out this animation from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and AECOM. More information on traffic signal priority can be found in the Traffic Signal Timing Manual.  

As a final note, don’t forget to register for the Coffee and Conversation special event on December 3, 2020, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, where we’ll discuss the Berlin Turnpike Adaptive Signals Project. Joining us will be Mark Makuch, Greg Palmer, and Jay Lockaby of the CTDOT’s newly-created Traffic Signals Unit within the Division of Traffic Engineering. To register, visit

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact: Theresa Schwartz, P.E.,
P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider (860) 486-4535 or

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Safety Matters: Local Road Safety Plans


Local Road Safety Plans

Keeping people safe on our roadways is an important responsibility that we all share. Roadway user, government employee, public official – whatever our role, with it comes that responsibility to do all we can to ensure that people in our community get home at the end of the day. Reducing crashes, especially serious injury and fatal crashes, is a key component of that.

Approximately fifty percent of serious injury and fatal crashes in Connecticut occur on local roads. Efforts have been made to reduce those numbers, and many municipalities have experienced success. Unfortunately, there are still crashes occurring on these roadways, and a broader approach may be what is needed to address them.

Local Road Safety Plans (LRSPs) are a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proven safety countermeasure that can assist your town or city with creating an overarching approach to safety on your local roads. The LRSP is a valuable tool that creates a framework for safety needs specific to your community. The FHWA has created a roadmap for local agencies to follow that lays out each step necessary to complete a plan that makes sense for your municipality and ultimately helps you achieve the goal of safer roadways.

In addition, to further assist local agencies in preparing an LRSP, the FHWA has recently created a new “do-it-yourself” website with videos, step-by-step guidance and examples from communities that have created a plan. That website can be found here.

One of the benefits of a Local Road Safety Plan is that it provides an opportunity for various municipal stakeholders to come together and find solutions as a team. This is an important component, as it helps to build better communication across local agencies and provides a holistic approach to safety concerns. Public Works, first responders, tree wardens, planners and others may all be looking at the same issue from varying perspectives, so why not find a solution together? Many communities have found that approach to be a driving force behind project implementation, and it makes sense. The more people that are supportive of a project, that have had their opinions heard and addressed, the more likely a project is to succeed. Even if you are not sure about what roadway safety issues your community is facing, start by creating a team to get the conversation underway.

If the idea of creating an LRSP on your own seems daunting, don’t be discouraged! Besides the resources on the DIY website, I am available to help. Anyone who is interested in creating a plan for their community can contact me and I will assist you with getting started. Developing a Local Road Safety Plan for your town or city is the first step in the right direction, and every step is one closer to keeping our communities safe by reducing serious injury and fatal crashes. We are all in this together!

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at

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New T2 Training Program: Traffic Signal Technician Certificate Program

New T2 Training Program: Traffic Signal Technician Certificate Program

The T2 Center will soon add a Traffic Signal Technician Certificate Program to its list of offerings. The program consists of a series of workshops designed to provide Connecticut’s municipal traffic signal personnel with knowledge of the fundamentals of traffic signal maintenance and operations procedures and techniques. The program will be of interest to new municipal traffic signal technicians and those who wish to assume the position in the future.  

Connecticut municipalities have expressed a need for trained, qualified professionals to maintain the specialized and increasingly technical traffic signal systems that contribute to the safety and efficiency of our transportation network. Operating and maintaining this significant infrastructure investment requires a force of municipal personnel with sound training in the fundamentals of traffic signal maintenance procedures and techniques. The Connecticut Traffic Signal Technician Program will provide an opportunity for municipal traffic signal technicians to receive this specialized training. 

Those who complete the Traffic Signal Technician I and Traffic Signal Technician II curriculum will be awarded the Connecticut Traffic Signal Technician I or Traffic Signal Technician II Certificate. These certificates recognize a participant’s successful completion of the program and attest to his or her knowledge of the fundamentals of traffic signal maintenance procedures and techniques. 

The overall structure of the program is under development, but topics will include:

  • Basics of Traffic Signal Operations
  • Reading Traffic Signal Plans
  • Work Zone Safety and Basic Electricity
  • Field Operations
  • Cabinet Field Repairs
  • Troubleshooting
  • Controller Programming
  • Detection
  • Construction Inspection
  • Coordinated Signal Timing Concepts

More information on the required credits, cost, and schedule of the program will soon be announced.

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Signal Spotlight: New Resource: Decision-Making Guide for Signal Phasing


New Resource: Decision-Making Guide for Signal Phasing

Earlier this year, the TRB released NCHRP Web-Only Document 284: Decision-Making Guide for Traffic Signal Phasing. The document outlines the existing best practices on signal phasing along with the results of NCHRP Project 03-118, under which researchers developed new safety performance functions (SPFs) and crash modification factors (CMFs) for various left-turn phasing scenarios at the intersection level. The document covers guidance on left-turn phasing mode, right-turn phasing mode, phase sequence and pedestrian phasing.

Five Key Takeaways:

According to the results of a survey conducted as part of the study, only 29% of responding agencies reported having formal policies, guidelines or procedures for selecting the most appropriate phasing for a signalized intersection.

The CTDOT Traffic Control Signal Design Manual outlines the acceptable options for left-turn phasing along with some general requirements for implementation. The Decision-Making Guide for Signal Phasing provides additional guidance relating to safety and operational considerations, as well as other unique contexts, such as transitways and separated bike lanes. Various alternatives to left-turn phasing are also provided.

The Guide provides comprehensive, clear and concise guidelines for decisions related to traffic signal phasing, but it is not intended to serve as a regulatory standard or requirement.

While the Guide provides useful information for engineers to select the most appropriate signal phasing, engineering judgment should be used. It is also important to coordinate with CTDOT to ensure that all Connecticut design standards are met.

According to a literature review conducted as part of the study, no known research indicates a safety or operational benefit to matching left turn phasing mode on opposing approaches.

Some agencies require that the same left-turn phasing mode is used on opposing approaches, but in some cases, it may be more appropriate to allow permissive turns on one of the approaches. The Guide also discusses situations in which a variable mode may be appropriate.

The pedestrian phasing information presented in the Guide discusses factors to consider for concurrent vs. exclusive phasing, LPI, detection, pedestrian prohibitions, and two-phase crossings.

The information presented in the guide should prove useful for refining pedestrian crossing designs; however, it is important for the design engineer to reference the CTDOT Traffic Control Signal Design Manual and the associated Interim Pedestrian Considerations and Pedestrian Signal Design – Technical Info documents. CTDOT has clearly defined policies and standards on pedestrian signal phasing and design.

The research conducted as part of the study produced new safety performance functions and crash modification factors for left-turn phasing modes.

The Guide provides a table of crash modification factors as well as a description of a methodology for combining delay and crash costs to conduct cost-benefit analyses for various phasing alternatives.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact: Theresa Schwartz, P.E.,
P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider (860) 486-4535 or


Decision-Making Guide for Traffic Signal Phasing:

CTDOT Traffic Control Signal Design Manual and Related Content:

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Safety Matters: Teen Driver Safety


Teen Driver Safety

National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 18-24 this year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has good reason to highlight teen driver safety, as motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, ages 15-18 years old, in the United States. Teen drivers are two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with another teen in the vehicle, compared to when driving alone, according to the results of a study analyzed by NHTSA. According to that same study, the risk increases with the addition of teen passengers.

In Connecticut, in an effort to reduce teen fatalities on the roadways, graduated license laws were put into effect in 2008. The stricter rules for teen drivers have resulted in teen car crash fatalities dropping from an average of 18 per year in 2001-2007 to seven per year in 2009-2016, according to a 2018 press release from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Unfortunately, teen drivers and passengers are still dying on our roads. Much like any other law, the graduated license laws are only effective when followed.

So how can we help keep teens in our community safe? One of the best ways, especially if one has a teen driver or soon-to-be driver in their life, is to be a good role model. By following the rules of the road, wearing a seatbelt, focusing on driving and not being distracted we model safe driving behavior. Talking to teens about safe driving and the responsibility of being behind the wheel is also paramount to their understanding of the potentially fatal consequence of a bad decision. Inexperience, speeding, lack of seatbelt use, impaired driving and distracted driving are all culprits of increased risk to teens in vehicles. Most of these have a solution though; encourage teens in your life to make the right choices as a driver and as a passenger.

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at


“Teen Driver Fatal Crashes on Sharp Decline,” DMV News, August 1, 2018, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles:

Teen Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Teen Drivers: Get the Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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Warren’s Words of Wisdom: Hot Stick Voltage Detectors — A False Sense of Safety?


Hot Stick Voltage Detectors — A False Sense of Safety?

There are several versions of voltage detectors I’ve seen firefighters and public works folks have purchased. Then they’ve asked me what I think of them. I have always told them the only 100% way that I can guarantee the power is shut off and safe for a first responder or public works to do anything (touching, pushing, rescuing) is when the utility has shown up and done whatever they need to do to make the situation safe. That means the utility has opened taps, fuses, grounded wires or whatever they have needed to do to tell you that you can safely do your work.

In a storm or emergency, many justify not waiting for the utility and take matters into their own hands, and sometimes rely on the voltage detectors as the all clear to do what they need to do. Let me point a few things out.

Depending on the conductor, electricity travels at something less than 186,000 miles/second but still faster than your kids attacking the dessert buffet at Foxwoods. So let’s say you walk up to down wire with a tree on it, hold out the hot stick, and nothing happens. Before you can turn around and say, “It’s safe,” a recloser 2 miles away resets and re-energizes the line to 23,000 volts; that takes like 0.0000038 seconds.

But maybe there wasn’t a recloser, and you did the road opening without incident—great job! I bet the success that time gave you confidence to do the same approach the next time and maybe another 100 times. Sorry, but in my opinion, you got lucky…until the day you didn’t.

As a certified safety professional, I believe any approach to a situation with electrical wires must have direct involvement with your local utility to ensure you will be as safe as possible. Any efforts to perform work without the direct involvement of the utility people is a risk. I personally would not risk my life using a hot stick voltage detector as a go/no-go to remove a tree with wires or to open a car with wires on it. If you do have one of these devices, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining and testing.

Do hot stick voltage detectors have a role in keeping first responders and public works safe? Yes, they do, by alerting them to energized down wires. However, to utility linemen, any wire that is not “dead and grounded” will be treated as “hot,” meaning you do not trust it to be safe until it is and is handled with rubber gloves and sleeves. A hot stick gives you an instantaneous reading on the wire. That doesn’t mean the wire can’t be energized again; it just means at that instant the wire is hot or not.  Are you willing to risk a life that the wire will stay that way?

You didn’t know that, did ya?

Seat belts became mandatory in 1968, though then they were only lap belts. I had a driver’s license (in Tennessee you could get a Learners Permit at age 15 or get married at age 14, your choice), but I couldn’t afford a car with seat belts for several years. When I was able to afford that “new” car with seat belts, I was always suspicious of the lap belt; I thought it would just slice you in half while your face bounced off the steering wheel or dashboard.

Now with all the air bags and self-tensioning seat belts and safety devices designed to keep you in the car in an accident, I have found religion. I never move without the seat belts fully engaged for everyone. It’s just my way of staying alive for the long term—I’m not going to end it by being stupid (I hope).

I was saddened to read about five teenagers in an accident (all under the age of 18), with three being ejected from the car. Happily, the word is all five will survive though seriously injured—amazing. Seat belts keep you and your loved ones in a steel box designed to crumple around you. Getting ejected from your safety box by not wearing a seat belt is just dumb, I’m sorry to have to say. Teach your family by example, wear yours, always.

Give yourself a hand at saving your hands and fingers.

One safety PPE area that has become the greatest thing since screen doors on submarines (no they don’t, really, no mosquitos on subs) is the variety of great gloves available for every type of work. Cut-proof, stab-proof, oil resistant reflective, NY Yankee’s resistant…you name it, someone makes it. My suggestion to all public works folks is get and wear the correct pair of gloves for your work. Even if your town budget says, “Hey, those aren’t cheap!,” wait till they see the medical bills and workers’ comp costs from a serious hand injury that could have been prevented with the right PPE gloves.

Impossible to hold a chilled beverage, eat chips, handle the remote, and perform other important human functions with this.

Stay safe my friends!!

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Traffic Signal Academy: On-Demand Learning – MUTCD Warrants for Traffic Signals Learning Guide

Traffic Signal Academy_MUTCD Warrants for Traffic Signals Learning Guide

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National Center for Pavement Preservation — Free Webinars!

ncppNational Center for Pavement Preservation — Free Webinars!

The National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) announces the 2020 AASHTO TSP·2 Pavement Preservation Webinar Series.  These webinars are offered FREE to all on a first-come, first-served basis.  You are encouraged to participate in all of the TSP·2 webinars, your participation is not limited to a specific partnership or geographic region.  This series offers an excellent opportunity to learn about current topics and issues in each of the four TSP·2 partnerships.  Registration is limited to the first 500 participants and a separate registration must be completed for each webinar.  We ask that you register only for those webinars you intended to participate in so that there is enough space for everyone who would like to join.  All webinars will begin at 2pm ET/1pm CT/ 12pm MT/11am PT.  Specific information for each TSP·2 webinar is as follows:

Rocky Mountain West — Tuesday, September 29th


  • Use of RAP in Surface Treatments  — Greg Duncan, Applied Pavement Technology
  • ASTM D8260 Mastic Application — Michael Guymon & Tom Cannon, Maxwell Products
  • New Mexico In-House Chip Seal Program — Lisa Vega, New Mexico DOT

Registration link:


Midwestern — Wednesday, October 21st


  • Micro Surfacing Issues and How Illinois DOT Fixed Them  — John Senger, Illinois DOT
  • What Went Wrong? A Case Study in Chip Seal Failure — Todd Shields, Indiana DOT
  • Alternate Delivery Methods of Pavement Preservation — Stacy Smith, Missouri DOT

Registration link:


Southeast — Monday, November 9th


  • Rejuvenators: Types, Intent and Process — Chris Lubbers, Kraton Polymers
  • Scrub Seal Best Practices — Stan Williams, Ergon
  • Panel Discussion on Implementing Preservation — Sarah Tamayo, Arkansas DOT

Registration link:


Northeast — Tuesday, December 1st


  • J-Band Treatment to Eliminate/Reduce Centerline Joint Opening — Bobby Betsold, All States Materials Group & Marcy Lucas, PennDOT
  • Good Construction Practices for Thin Lays — Greg Harder, Asphalt Institute
  • What Could/Should You Do for Pavement Evaluation Before Treatment? — David Peshkin, Applied Pavement Technology

Registration link:


These webinars were developed from existing agenda topics planned for in-person 2020 TSP·2 partnership meetings and are being hosted on the GoToWebinar platform.  Each webinar will be 90 minutes long and will include time at the end of the session for question and answer. You do not need to be involved with TSP2 to participate.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the NCPP by email at

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