WINSLOW — The Maine Department of Transportation is upgrading all of the traffic lights in town to connect them to a fiber optic network stored in Waterville, improving the lights’ sequencing and changing traffic patterns along the way.

Each light will be upgraded except for the light at the bridge just before entering Winslow from Waterville, as that was upgraded and tied into the fiber optics system a few years ago, Town Manager Michael Heavener said. The transportation department is paying for the upgrades.

All other traffic lights in Winslow will be connected via the same server in Waterville, which means the public works director simply can use his computer to change the lights if necessary. Before, Heavener said, public works employees would have to go to each light individually and adjust them manually.

The lights are often put on flashing mode in the winter to aid snow removal, he said, so the upgrade will make the process much easier.

Along with the upgrade, a Department of Transportation employee who understands traffic light timing will adjust the sequencing of the lights to improve traffic flow throughout town.

“It should eliminate any traffic build-ups that we’re experiencing now,” Heavener said.

The upgrades should be completed in the next two to three weeks, but the department will spend more time adjusting the traffic timing after that.

When the town first met with the department about a year ago about the plans, Heavener suggested the state change the traffic pattern at the intersection of Bay and Halifax streets, near J & S Oil.

Heavener drives through the area a few times each day, he said, and he’s noticed over the years that the traffic tends to “stack” in the right lane, because those who are turning must wait behind those at red lights who are going straight. He’s received complaints from residents, he said.

The department ran computer simulations of the proposed change and found that the idea would improve the traffic flow in the area. About every third car takes a right turn, Heavener said.

The signs at the intersection seen by those heading north toward Waterville have been changed to indicate a lane for only right turns and a lane for heading straight or turning left. The official signs will be put up within the next two to three weeks, Heavener said.

The state DOT also plans to put up signs quickly to alert people to the change and guide them to the correct lane. Heavener said he doesn’t know why the signs on the lights were changed before the additional signs were received and placed in the area.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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