Traffic Signal Performance Improvement Program

Vacant, Deputy Director


Traffic Signals can and do affect our lives each and every day. Commuters in Houston encounter traffic signals in nearly every route they travel; and although signalized intersections are in place for increased safety, they are often a source of delay and frustration. Outdated poor signal timing and signal equipment make your commute even more hectic and unpredictable.

Improving timing and equipment performance at signalized intersections is a very cost effective way to facilitate traffic flow along a specific corridor. By retiming existing traffic signals to current traffic patterns and assuring signal equipment is up-to-date, the efficiency of each intersection increases dramatically. Improved traffic flow equates to reduced intersection delays, lower air pollution/vehicular emissions, and reduced gasoline consumption. These positive benefits mean commuters save time and money!

City of Houston's Solution - Traffic Signal Performance Improvement

Houston has over 2,400 signalized intersections maintained and operated by the City. The Public Works and Engineering Department's Traffic Signal Performance Improvement Program (TSPIP) is an effort to ensure the City's traffic signals are using the latest up-to-date traffic data and equipment, all while taking advantage of the most recent technologies to produce new customized signal timings. The central approach of TSPIP is to provide an optimized level of traffic signal operation on the City's most heavily traveled corridors and throughout some of its most heavily populated employment areas.

The Traffic Signal Timing and Operations Section housed at Houston's TranStar facility is the program management group for TSPIP. Their program management functions as follows:

  • Initial plan development - defining the scope/corridors/zones/time schedules, etc.
  • Ensuring the adherence of all implementation "roll outs" to the program schedule.
  • Ensuring proper quality assurance/quality control measures.

In addition to providing the program management for TSPIP, the Traffic Signal Timing and Operations Section is responsible for developing signal optimization plans for all of the selected zones. Their role in this process consists of field timing and equipment inventory data collection, timing plan design, signal timing implementation and results validation.

This program has been an effort to proactively address traffic signal synchronization issues in the City of Houston. It was initially a 2-phase program that began on January 2004 (Phase 1) and concluded on December 2005 (Phase 2), previously known as TSTOP (Traffic Signal Timing Optimization Program). The program has been designed to address an average of 800 traffic signals per year, assuring every signalized intersection is reevaluated every three years.

TSPIP - 2015/2016 and Future TSPIP's

The Traffic Signal Timing and Operations Section continues to improve the operation of all Houston signalized intersections on a 3-year rotational program complying with the recommendation from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This means that each signal within the City of Houston is retimed every three years. Between 800-900 traffic signals are evaluated and optimized each year. All traffic signals are continuously monitored in order to assure quality and control throughout the City.

In TSPIP 2015-2016 signal performance improvements continue with the following areas:

  • Kingwood Are
  • Spur 527 Area
  • Texas Medical Center Area
  • Southwest Area
  • Downtown & Midtown Area (fine-tuning)

All these zones will be optimized, integrating adjacent intersections in order to establish a network operation model that works well with the major corridors in each zone. Each year the City rotates various zones to cover all areas on a continual basis. Traffic congestion is a major issue for Houstonians, making traffic signal performance improvements is an excellent investment with great benefits for our city’s future traffic operations.

REVIEW The Transportation and Emergency Management Center.

Any questions or comments about the City of Houston's Traffic Signal Performance Improvement Program (TSPIP) can be directed to the Traffic Hotline at 832.395.3000 or directly to the City of Houston’s 311 line