Traffic Engineering

The Traffic Engineering Division of Public Works oversees the orderly development of the City’s transportation system. The goal is to achieve a transportation system that will address traffic demand and capacity, employ appropriate technologies, and join transit, roadway and bicycle/pedestrian facilities into a safe, efficient and environmentally sensitive network. The Traffic Engineering Division has three primary focus areas, the engineering section, the traffic signal section, and the traffic sign and marking section.

The Traffic Engineering section is responsible for a variety of functions including:

  • Citizen service response
  • Traffic Calming Review
  • Implementation of Traffic Signal Timing and Review
  • Development Impact Analysis
  • Traffic Study Review
  • Transportation Modeling
  • Development Review
  • Speed Studies
  • Vehicle Classification Studies
  • Warrant Analyses
  • Traffic Count Analysis
  • All-way Stop Analysis
  • Provides work zone traffic control inspections

The Traffic Signal section is responsible for the efficient operation and maintenance of the city’s 79 signalized intersections. Their responsibilities include:

  • Routine preventive maintenance
  • 24-hour emergency response
  • New construction inspection
  • Minor construction and improvements
  • Citizen service response
  • The operation and maintenance of the signal communication systems
  • Locates buried electrical facilities for construction

The Traffic Sign and Marking section responsibilities includes manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of the approximately 14,000 traffic signs within the city as well as the installation and maintenance of the traffic markings on city streets. The responsibilities of this section include:

  • Replacing faded, damaged and/or vandalized traffic signs.
  • Maintaining pavement markings throughout the city. This includes the pavement markings and crosswalks/legends used at major intersections.
  • Keeping an inventory of existing installed traffic control signs and updating our signs and markings material inventory, in order to better meet maintenance and installation needs. This entails reviewing existing methods and materials to achieve more efficient, effective, and safe traffic control signs throughout our community.

It is also an active participant in regional transportation planning activities of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Common Questions

What is the process for getting speed tables installed on my street?
The information below details the procedure for study, evaluation, and location of potential traffic calming devices (speed tables) on city streets.  Neighborhood participation is vitally important in the successfulness of any traffic calming study. The City requires a “contact neighbor” (that is a resident home owner living on the street to be studied) for Traffic Engineering to handle communication to the remaining residents through. This contact person would handle gathering all pertinent petitions (explained below) and be the conduit of information between residents and the city.  

To initiate a study, our Traffic Engineering requires 75% of the owner occupied residents on the study street to sign and address a petition requesting a study is conducted to evaluate the need for traffic calming devices (such as speed tables).
This petition will need to be sent to Traffic Engineering to initiate the study. Once received, Traffic Engineering will complete a traffic calming needs study. This study will identify the need (based on existing speed and traffic counts), location, and cost of the devices on the study street. The collected speed and traffic counts must be high enough to exceed the warrants for the installation of speed tables. These warrants are based on nationally accepted levels of speed and volume on a residential street.  Of critical importance as well is the geography of the street that is the severity of curves and steepness of hills. These factors will be evaluated in this study. This study (and rather or not the study street meets the necessary warrants) would be shared with City Officials, Council, and most importantly to residents through the contact neighbor.
If the area meets warrants for installation of a traffic calming device, Traffic Engineering will generate a map of the study street illustrating the proposed location(s) of the devices. A copy of this map would be sent to the contact neighbor so that person can make additional copies (if they like) and solicit with a final petition to have these devices installed. Once again 75% of the owner occupied residents along the study street would be required to sign and address the petition to support having speed tables installed.
When Traffic Engineering receives those petitions back, City officials as well as Council will be approached by this division for approval of the installation of speed tables at the locations documented in the traffic calming needs study.

Whom do I call if I see a traffic sign down or missing, a malfunctioning traffic signal, or if a traffic signal is burned out at an intersection?
Call Traffic Engineering at 770-535-6890.

How does a traffic signal know how long to stay green for each movement?
Various devices are frequently used to detect the presence of vehicles at intersections. These detections are used by a controller (computer) at each intersection to adjust the timing of the traffic signal based on demand. The most common type of detection is provided by a series of wire loops in the pavement which detect when vehicles disturb the small magnetic field around the loop. Often the loops can be seen as lines making circles or rectangles on the pavement. The thin lines are the sealant used to cover the wire. Newer forms of detection include small overhead cameras which give an image of the approaches to the intersections, and the zones of detection maybe drawn on a computer screen rather than disturbing the pavement. This new type of system reduces costs and improves safety since crews do not have to block lanes to maintain or move loops in the pavement. These cameras may be found at newer installations around the downtown square area. The city does not maintain videotapes of the camera images.

What do the pedestrian signals mean, and why don't they allow pedestrians to cross the street immediately after the button is pushed?
Pedestrian indications consist of the illuminated words WALK and DONT WALK or the illuminated symbols of a walking person (symbolizing WALK) and an upraised hand (symbolizing DONT WALK). The steadily illuminated DONT WALK indication means that a person should not enter the roadway in the direction of the signal. The flashing DONT WALK means that the pedestrian should not enter the roadway, but that any pedestrian that has started to cross may proceed to cross the street or to a safety island. The WALK indication means that a pedestrian may proceed toward the signal, but caution should still be used in watching for potential turning vehicles. Pushing the pedestrian crossing button is similar to the vehicle detectors mentioned above. The signal controller will provide a WALK indication during the normal sequence of the signal lights when vehicle movement conflicts are minimized.

Does the law allowing right turns on a red signal mean the vehicle must first be stopped?
When facing a circular red traffic signal, a vehicle must be stopped at the intersection before making a right turn on red. The turn may then only be made after yielding to pedestrians in the adjacent crosswalks and to other traffic in the intersection. A right turn on red is not allowed when a sign is posted prohibiting the movement or if the signal indication is a red arrow. A left turn on red is allowed from a one-way street to another one-way street in a manner similar to a right turn on red.

Why do signals sometimes flash, and what does it mean?
Signals which normally operate with a sequence of green, yellow, and red lights may revert to a flashing operation in certain situations. Signals also contain a fail-safe program to automatically begin flashing if an event occurs which would interfere with normal safe operations. Signals may also be flashed for special events or response to unique situations. Drivers approaching a flashing red indication should treat it as they would a Stop sign. When approaching a flashing yellow signal, the driver may proceed through the intersection or past the signal only with caution.

What should drivers do when a signal is not on (no power)?
When a power failure or other malfunction occurs and the lights for a traffic signal are not illuminated, the driver of any vehicle approaching the intersection is required to stop at the intersection and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so…treating the area as a four way stop.

Links of Interest

Rhonda Brady
Transportation Engineering Manager
P.O. Box 2495
Gainesville, GA 30503
Phone:  770-535-6882
Phone: 770-535-6890
Fax:  770-531-2674