Will red lights on I-540 speed up Raleigh traffic?

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NCDOT officials are installing red light cameras on I-540 (WTVD)

Is it possible for red lights to speed up traffic?

North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers say yes, hoping a new project will alleviate some of the pain for drivers traveling on I-540 in North Raleigh: stop-and-go signals located on entrance ramps.

The $2.1 million project will install ramp signals at four entrance ramps to I-540 West: Falls of Neuse Road, Six Forks Road, Creedmoor Road, and Leesville Road.

The ramp to Leesville will close 9:00 p.m. Friday and will remain closed until 6:00 a.m. Monday as crews install the new technology.

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Resident Engineer Cameron Richards explains the signals, also known as ramp meters, are generally used during peak travel times (e.g., morning and evening commutes) but can be turned on whenever a wreck, crash of construction leads to heavy traffic.

"If you drive the corridor, you notice the slowdowns," Richards tells ABC11. "It slows down your overall commute."

Richards added that the Creedmoor ramp will close later this month for a weekend, but the others will only require redirecting traffic while work is being done. All signals are expected to be installed and working by September.

"We also have cameras we're installing to monitor the traffic. There are various [information-technology] systems that are being set up."

According to the NCDOT website, on-ramp signals were first introduced in Illinois in 1963 on Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway. Many states - including California, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada - installed the signals to help keep freeway traffic moving as well. Ramp meters are used in European nations, including England, France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

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