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City Council Studies Traffic Light Plan

February 18, 1999|SUE FOX

A proposal to speed the journeys of emergency vehicles citywide by rigging the traffic lights in their path inched forward Wednesday when the Los Angeles City Council agreed to solicit proposals for the project.

The city, however, has no money earmarked for the system.

The Department of Transportation has evaluated several technologies that would change traffic signals to a green light when ambulances, firetrucks and police cruisers approach. The city asked for a proposal covering work at 1,000 major intersections citywide.

Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski emphasized that the action is nonbinding, intended only to provide information about the city's options.

"There is concern about the various technologies, whether they are compatible with our own," Miscikowski said.

City analysts have not completed a financial analysis of the proposed system, which would probably cost millions to install. One estimate by the Police Department projected that it would cost about $1.2 million to equip its patrol fleet and $4,000 to outfit each intersection.

"The cost varies greatly depending upon what system you choose," said Sean Haeri, a city transportation engineer. The department is already designing a system to give commuter buses priority at some intersections, and Haeri said this network might be easily adapted to allow emergency vehicles to preempt the traffic lights.

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