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Is it time for a traffic study in Little Rock? Here's why experts say no

We caught up with the city's traffic engineering manager who controls the traffic lights to ask how they're improving how we commute.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — We've all been stuck at a traffic light that seems to take forever to change before.

Thousands pass through busy intersections around Little Rock every day, and at some point are stopped by a traffic light.

Bill Henry is the traffic engineering manager for the city.

"We maintain and operate the traffic signal system," Henry said.

In heavily traveled areas, traffic congestion inevitably happens, and you might get stuck at a light for longer than you'd like. 

So we wondered if there was a need for a traffic study in Little Rock.

"You only do traffic studies when it's warranted," Henry said.

With about 330 traffic signals in the city, Henry said that most are functioning properly, and there isn't a need for a traffic study right now.

The question then becomes, how exactly do traffic lights work in this city?

Henry explained that most of them operate on a fixed-time signal system.

"We can coordinate it and it makes your trip down the street a whole lot better," Henry described.

The system has different signal times for morning, noon, evening, and when there isn't much traffic.

That leads to another question: why aren't there any left turn signals only on Broadway?

"Generally in the downtown grid, we don't have left turn signals," Henry said.

On University Avenue, a high-traffic area, the traffic signals there operate using an adaptive traffic system.

That system adjusts the time of the lights depending on the number of vehicles waiting and passing at the intersection.

Henry would like every major road to have that traffic system, but the cost for just the one controller that operates lights on University, Shackleford, and Chenal Parkway isn't cheap.

"It was like $2.6 million," Henry said.

Henry added that they also just don't have the manpower to go and study each traffic light.

Right now, he said that he only has three traffic technicians, but ideally, he needs about 20.

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