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​Adaptive Signalization System and Preemption


The Town of Lexington has seen major population growth in recent decades, measuring an 83% increase since 2000 with much more projected in the future. The growth has brought worsening traffic, so municipal officials established congestion relief as a key goal of the Town of Lexington Vision Plan. The town's Adaptive Signalization System works toward this ambition, improving traffic flow and decreasing travel time.

Cameras mounted to street lights monitor traffic and allow the system to make real-time adjustments to the traffic signals. The street lights also coordinate to create what is known as a "green light tunnel" as a way of handling traffic volume. Emergency vehicles are equipped with hardware that can override the light system allowing them to respond to calls quickly.

Funding for the $6.6-million project came from the Central Midlands Council of Governments' Columbia Area Transportation Study Guideshare Program, as well as Lexington County and the Lexington Medical Center. Since some traffic lights close to the hospital are inside West Columbia, Lexington created an agreement for the City of West Columbia to operate those signals. The SC Department of Transportation served as project manager.

The system has successfully cut travel time nearly in half for portions of Highway 378. So far, 11 Lexington County fire vehicles and ambulances have the ability to override lights. Going forward, the Town of Lexington intends to apply the system to all 46 of its traffic signals, which would make it the first municipality in the state to have this complete integration. The town will also equip nearly a dozen more emergency vehicles with the preemption hardware.

Contact Laurin Barnes at or 803.600.2533.