Green Light: New Signals to Speed Up City’s Traffic Prospects

As part of an ongoing Japan-funded project to reduce congestion in the capital’s clogged streets, City Hall turned on three new traffic lights on Wednesday in Phnom Penh—with two more set to follow today.

The three lights are among some 90 signals that the $15.2 million project—funded by JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency—planned for the city. Work began on the lights about a year ago with an aim to replace 69 existing lights and add 31 more. It will wrap up in May, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said.

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Motorists drive past a set of traffic lights—one of three turned on on Wednesday—on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

While more traffic lights might not seem the most straightforward way to speed the flow of the city’s notoriously busy streets, Mr. Measpheakdey said the replacements are far more sophisticated than what Phnom Penh had before.

All of the traffic lights are synchronized to ensure minimal delay between signals, he said.

“If we are traveling from a traffic light which is green, given the duration that we travel from this traffic light to arrive at another traffic light, [the next] will be on green as well, in order to make the traffic flow smooth without having stops which cause bad traffic jams,” he said.

The technology also means that officials will be able to monitor and control the new traffic lights from one central location, Mr. Measpheakdey said.

“They will be linked to a control room in City Hall,” he said. “We can do anything with the traffic lights by using a remote control.”

City Hall has installed 26 security cameras on the signals as well, he said, to allow those in the control room to survey traffic. These security cameras are different from the 600 surveillance cameras recently installed across Phnom Penh.

Two of Wednesday’s lights—one next to Lux Cinema and one by the InterContinental Phnom Penh hotel—are replacing older lights, which City Hall will move to Phnom Penh’s suburbs. The other, at an intersection in Boeng Trabek commune, is new.

Meanwhile, two more signals are set to blink green, yellow and red today—one near Chaktomuk Secondary School and the other near Preah Sisowath High School.

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