Breaking News
More () »

Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Some traffic lights in Memphis ARE synchronized, despite claims to the contrary | VERIFY

Jack Conway from Chickasaw Gardens wants to know, “Why aren’t traffic lights in Memphis synchronized?”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Need the answer to a question tracked down? Did you see something on social media that just didn’t seem right, and you want it verified? Send Local 24 News your questions and our verify team will try and get to the bottom of it.

This week we are talking traffic lights. If you drive around the Memphis area, you are bound to hit one red light after another. 

Which brings us to this week’s question. Jack Conway from Chickasaw Gardens wants to know, “Why aren’t traffic lights in Memphis synchronized?”

The Verify team went straight to the source: Memphis’ Traffic Management Center at City Hall. It is the nerve center of Memphis’ intelligent transportation system.

All day and night, cameras, along with signal systems and detectors, monitor the flow of traffic throughout the city.

Traffic engineer Randall Tatum says Memphis didn’t even start its extensive synchronization project until 2011.

Check out the numbers since then:

  • $30 million spent on a traffic signalization project.
  • 120 miles of fiber optic cable laid down to make it happen.
  • 485 of the cities signaled intersections now synchronized.
  • Average travel times citywide reduced 10% to 20%.

We can verify the claim that traffic lights aren’t synchronized is FALSE.

In fact, this map shows how major thoroughfares like Germantown Road, Shelby Drive, Poplar, Winchester, and Walnut Grove all have signal coordination.

“Sometimes people think because the intersections are coordinated that you will never hit a red light that is a common misconception,” said Tatum.

Tatum warns there are different factors – everything from emergency vehicles to pedestrians – which can disrupt the system. And during peak times, when major streets like Germantown Parkway are over saturated, it’s impossible for the synchronization system to work.

“You have more vehicles on that roadway trying to move than you physically have traffic lanes to be able to move them,” said Tatum. 

So what about the rest of the intersections in Memphis? Will they ever be synchronized?

Earlier we said that it cost $30 million to synchronize the first half of city’s lighted intersections.

Well, we can “verify” that right now Memphis doesn’t have the money to do the other half. If the city gets a grant, that could change.

If you’d like to have something verified, email verify@localmemphis.com.