Chicago awarded $3.9 million to improve traffic signal technologies that prioritize buses

It is one of 10 projects across the country to receive a federal grant to build advanced intelligent transportation system technologies that will improve mobility, safety and provide multimodal transportation.

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People cross in front of a bus in the Loop last month.

Chicago has received a federal grant to update traffic signals to prioritize buses.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Chicago will look to deploy a new signal timing technology that will prioritize buses at traffic lights across the city after being awarded a $3.9 million federal grant on Wednesday. 

“With these grants, the Biden-Harris Administration is helping communities deliver modern transportation systems that connect people to where they want to go more affordably, efficiently, and safely,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “We’re pleased to support these innovative solutions that will improve driving and public transit for Americans in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike.”

It is one of 10 projects nationwide to receive grant money to build advanced intelligent transportation technologies that will improve mobility and safety, and provide multimodal transportation.

Chicago’s Centralized Transit Signal Priority Project will improve existing transit infrastructure and modify communication and software systems to prioritize buses at every traffic signal in Chicago. The new system will eliminate the need for separate field equipment to detect buses and implements a more centralized system for buses.

Erica Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the funds will help to decrease travel time for riders, increase system reliability and allow the city to create hundreds more signal priority intersections over the next several years.

“Chicago’s current signal priority system requires equipment installed on buses and at intersections to work,” Schroeder said. “The new approach would eliminate the need for separate equipment, create a centralized signal prioritization system and allow Chicago to significantly increase the number of traffic signals where this technology can be used.

“CDOT and [the Chicago Transit Authority] are working in partnership to leverage once-in-a-generation federal funding and create better, more efficient transit systems for residents.”

The grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration total $45.2 million so far.

Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said the grant will help prepare America’s transportation systems for the future.” 

“Chicago’s project will use advanced technologies to help improve transit operations,” Pollack said.

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