But progress is being made. The latest National Transportation Operations Coalition assessment shows that cities, counties, and states are slowly but surely improving traffic signal management and operation despite the usual continued challenges. The most recent National Traffic Signal Report Card shows a slight gain—from a D- to a D+—from 2005 to today.

“With the state of the economy and local budgetary constraints, our resources continue to be reduced while the number of signals continues to increase,” says Pasco County, Fla., Traffic Operations Manager Robert Reck.

Agencies are reorganizing to focus resources specifically on operations and maintenance and collaborating regionally to take advantage of each other’s strengths and increase the chance of obtaining limited federal funding.

Respondents representing approximately 39% of the nation’s signals graded themselves by completing a self-assessment. Although the overall improvement is small, agencies operating 150 to 450, 450 to 1,000, and more than 1,000 signals each made gains and have an overall letter grade of C in each category.

The results —and the fact that more effective traffic flow patterns lower both fuel consumption and congestion—indicate that continuing investment in traffic signal operations is critical. And as in the last report card there are examples of successful practices. For more information, visit www.ite.org/reportcard.