How Hurricane Irma affected your daily commute

Stoplights lose sync, slowing down flow of traffic

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Central Florida drivers might have noticed it took a little bit longer to complete their daily commute after Hurricane Irma.

"It takes you longer to get home," said Brenda Mallard, whose 20-minute commute has turned into 35 minutes since the hurricane.

Ted Freeman of Orlando has his own theory about how more people are driving more after the hurricane. 

"You can go to one store and maybe get a loaf of bread there," he explained. "Then you go somewhere else and get something else. If you want a can of soup, you can forget about it."

And there's a reason behind those apparent delays. 

News 6 took those questions and concerns to the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Transportation and spoke with contractors on the ground who deal with traffic lights.

The end result is that it's not all in your head. Hurricane Irma did knock out quite a few traffic lights and as as they go back on, their timing can be off for a multitude of reasons: 

- The traffic lights are being operated on a generator and not synced into the main system
- The sensors above the lights were moved during the hurricane
- Other communication issues. 

"Repairs are underway," a spokesperson with FDOT said.

Additionally there have been more people in Central Florida who are either passing through or were staying here to get away from Hurricane Irma when the storm made landfall in south Florida.

"There is going to be a traffic change no matter what happens, either before a hurricane or after a hurricane," Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Steven Montiero said. "But people need to remember their responsibility is behind the wheel."

Montiero said traffic patterns were also thrown off while tolls were suspended across the state. Those tolls went back into effect overnight Thursday and drivers should start seeing noticeable improvements in their daily commute soon.

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