Take a sneak peek inside Orange County's traffic control center

Meet the workers behind the traffic lights

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A team of six employees at the Orange County Traffic Management Control Center are the eyes behind the lights. With the help of about 130 cameras across the county, they monitor everything on the roads in real time.

"We see a lot of things going on in the streets, a lot of accidents obviously, after it happens," Franklin Pulla, senior traffic engineer operator, said.

The department also maintains all county school zone flashing lights. When drivers are faced with rush hour traffic, traffic managemnt tries to make the drivers' commutes easier, allowing them to see less red and more green.

Hazem El-Assar, chief engineer for Orange County Traffic Management Center, said the timing is based on speed limit.

"So if you drive the speed limit, you should be able to get as many green lights as possible," El-Assar said.

The control room is able to make changes and fix problems without the need for an outside source.

"We can change the timing from here. We can troubleshoot. So instead of sending technicians out for each and every call we get, we can monitor traffic conditions remotely from here and respond based on observations instantly," El-Assar said. 

As for the reason as to why traffic lights might sometimes take longer to change, the department said it depends on the situation.

"It depends on the time of day, the amount of traffic using the intersection. In rush hour it becomes more challenging because we have to serve the side streets as well," El-Assar said. "And when the side streets are congested you can't take away time from them to give to the main street. So sometimes you have to wait more than one cycle to go through those major intersections."

El-Assar tells News 6 that outside factors can also play a role in how long you find yourself waiting at a stop light. 

"Most of the time an emergency vehicle will come and we trigger a preemption and it stops directions so that they can proceed forward," Pulla said. "This is usually what happens when people say: 'Oh, I'm stuck in the light for two or three cycles and it's because we're giving priority to the emergency vehicles.'"

Orange County Traffic Management Center receives about 1,800 phone calls a year from residents.

The most common complaint is why a traffic light takes long to turn green. 

For concerns and questions, you can dial 311. 

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