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Think Traffic Keeps Getting Worse? You're Right. City Of Phoenix Hoping To Improve Congestion

Kathy Ritchie
Traffic near 16th Street and Glendale.

Before we even get to the office, most of us are battling traffic. Whether it’s on the freeways or on city streets, traffic seems to be getting worse. And the City of Phoenix is trying to do something about it.

It’s just after 8 a.m. at the intersection of 16th Street and Glendale Avenue and traffic is still pretty gnarly.

Bruce Littleton is a traffic engineering supervisor with the City of Phoenix. And one of the problems facing commuters is something he calls “saturation.”

"So there’s more traffic than the signal can handle on each approach," explained Littleton. That can lead to heavy back ups around major intersections.

There are 1,100 traffic signals in Phoenix, and it’s up to Littleton and five city employees to set the time on those signals.

But with the passage of a voter approved transportation plan earlier this year, Littleton said he's going to start getting the funds to invest in more technology - like signal detection, "so the signal can start adjusting itself cycle to cycle."

The city also wants to encourage other modes of transportation, like buses, light rail and bikes.

"Realistically, we’re passed the point of building our way out of congestion," Littleon said.

So, at heavily trafficked intersections like around 20th Street and Camelback Road, Littleton said it’s not practical to buy up parcels of land to widen the roadway.

The city plans to upgrade traffic signals at major intersections starting next year.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.