July 24, 2020

RK&K’s Approach to Signal Timing Enhances Value

By Stuart Samberg

RK&K is committed to providing our clients with the best solutions for their projects while maintaining the highest quality. In many cases, this means leveraging new technology or approaching a traditional task in a non-traditional way. RK&K’s Traffic Team took the latter approach and re-imagined the way we typically approach signal timing and installation projects. What if — instead of analyzing in the office and testing our proposed solutions in the field — we were able to test the solutions in the office using the exact same equipment we would find in the field?

To make this happen, RK&K has established two fully functional signal cabinet and controller setups: a NEMA TS-2, Type 1 with an Econolite ASC/3-2100 Controller and a NEMA 33x equipped with an Econolite 2070-style Advanced Traffic Controller (ATC). Both cabinets interface with a variety of virtual controller platforms, including the McCain ATC and Siemens M60 controllers. Using these test devices, our traffic team completed various training sessions related to cabinet wiring, MMU setup, and controller programming in a controlled environment.

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This in-house training allowed our team to test innovative or unconventional signal phasing options to ensure their compatibility with field equipment prior to attempting to implementing in the field — ultimately resulting in enhanced service to our clients, including training for Owner staff, office testing prior to field deployment, and assistance with field implementation at the controller.

So, what’s in it for the client? And does this approach actually work?

Brian Grandizio working on a signal timing cabinet

For the Town of Culpeper, VA, RK&K was recently tasked with retiming a corridor of five signals along Business US 15/29, the main commercial corridor through Town. Using our NEMA TS-2, Type 1 cabinet along with CENTRACS software, which allows controllers to interface with a computer, we tested all the timings and interface prior to going into the field. This significantly limited field time for implementation and limited risks associated with field data entry. This included the conversion of one signal from a Siemens controller to an Econolite ASC/3-2100, which we programmed prior to heading into the field to limit time that the signal was under flash, enhancing safety for our employees and the public at-large.

This significantly limited field time for implementation and limited risks associated with field data entry.

A component of a signal timing cabinet

Similarly, for the Town of Warrenton, VA, RK&K implemented a retiming plan and coordination of the Town’s main corridor of four signals. The Town utilized the NEMA TS-2, Type 1 cabinets, so RK&K’s team was well-prepared to offer tried-and-true solutions which had been tested in-house prior to implementation in the field. In addition to successfully recalibrating the Town’s signal timing, RK&K’s team supported the Town with the purchase of new controllers for each intersection (Econolite Cobalt ATC controllers), and assisting with the installation and programming of TimeSync-GPS devices, which act as a means of signal coordination. Because RK&K had the same equipment in-house, our team was able to plug in new controllers into our in-house cabinets and program them before heading out into the field. This effort further reduced field time and potential error, as our team headed to the field with “plug and play” controllers.

RK&K is proud to stand among a few firms who have implemented this practice as the new standard.

As a result of this new approach to training and implementation of signal timing improvements, RK&K is well-equipped to serve our many clients who seek these services. One such client, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, is mandating their engineering consultants to test their designs in the controller prior to approval or implementation in the field, and our knowledge and equipment puts on the forefront of this new requirement.

As a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement, RK&K is proud to stand among a few firms who have implemented this practice as the new standard. We look forward to continuing to provide creative solutions to our clients today and into the future.

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