The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Adapting Chattanooga

by Dr. Airton G. Kohls

In recent years, the City of Chattanooga has experienced steady increase in traffic demand leading to significant increase in delays and congestion. The advent of large companies made the city prosper but has challenged the existent transportation infrastructure. Looking into the future, the City of Chattanooga, TDOT, the regional planning agency, transit agencies plus counties and neighboring cities are coordinating to implement a regional intelligent transportation system (ITS).

Four hundred intersections will be ultimately upgraded and will operate under traffic-responsive and adaptive control features. Such advanced operations are dependent on reliable and robust communication systems, and that is exactly what stakeholders have prioritized with the deployment of a broadband wireless mesh network (WMN). The installation is quick, low cost, providing flexibility and wide Internet access coverage for fixed and mobile users of the system. Another advantage of WMNs is that it can be designed to simultaneously support multiple municipal applications, such as ITS, mobile public safety and city workforce, street lighting, automated utility meter reading, etc.

The City of Chattanooga has concurrently upgraded the traffic signal control equipment within the Central Business District and has those communicating to a brand new Traffic Operations Center located adjacent to the current traffic engineering offices. Mr. Jidong Yang, Mr. John Van Winkle and Mr. Stephen Meyer coordinated the project and point out some lessons learned in the process:

A more detailed article was published in the November 2012 issue of the ITE Journal ( On a recent visit to the City of Chattanooga's traffic engineering department, Mr. John Van Winkle demonstrated the capabilities of the Traffic Operations Center and also informed that the project includes the installation of the Flashing Yellow Arrow display for permissive left turns in several intersections. It will be one of the first deployments of the Flashing Yellow Arrow in the state of Tennessee aiming to improve intersection safety and enhancing intersection operational capability.

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