A study of just 18 traffic lights showed that modernizing Tyler’s signals could have major impacts for motorists.

The Tyler City Council was presented with the results of a study from Kimley-Horn, which included a pilot program that adjusted lights in three key areas to find efficiencies.

The areas included in the pilot were the hospital district on South Beckham Avenue, Broadway Avenue between Loop 323 and Chimney Rock Drive, and Loop 323 between Broadway Avenue and Old Bullard Road.

Optimizing the lights resulted in between 16% and 19% reductions in travel time and a total annual cost savings in delays of $15.1 million for motorists, according to the study. Cost savings in delays is an estimate of the value of time lost while motorists sit in traffic.

The representative from Kimley-Horn said the pilot was implemented to show what can be achieved with good practices.

The study also showed that half of the lights in Tyler were put in prior to 1982 and none of the lights have battery backups.

Most of the lights in the city also do not have communications capabilities, so if they go down the city doesn’t know until a motorist calls it in.

Mayor Martin Heines said the project has been in the works for several years and called the pilot a major step forward.

District 1 Councilwoman Linda Sellers asked the city’s traffic department if it could implement similar changes on Broadway from Grande to Cumberland before major holiday traffic kicks in.

The City Council also approved a new ordinance that better defines adequate food, water and shelter for animals. Director of Animal Services Shawn Markmann said the state law is lacking in clarity, and this ordinance will allow for better enforcement in neglect cases.

“This ordinance actually brings about some definitions,” Markmann said. “One of the frustrations our animal control officers have is that we work about 500 cases per year where the level of neglect may not make state level but we have to (means) to make change. Right now we can only do a notice and check back.”

Markmann also said this ordinance also will give officers the ability to get ahead of cases that aren’t quite neglect, but show signs of becoming a neglect case later. The ordinance would give the option to issue a class C misdemeanor citation like other city ordinance violations.

Markmann said their primary goal will remain the education of pet owners and helping people in need. He said in the past three years the Pet Food Bank has distributed 11,500 pounds of food, and the department has donated dozens of pet houses.

“You know, I like this,” District 4 Councilman Don Warren said. “You could take a picture of me in a back yard with inadequate shelter and no one would care. You take a picture of a dog and it would go viral.”

Markmann said the new definitions for adequate food would be a sufficient quantity of non-contaminated, nutritious food appropriate for the size and type of animal. Shelter would be defined as a clean, dry shelter that is three walls with a door opening on the fourth and large enough for an animal to comfortably stand, lie down in and move in and out of.

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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