The Ministry of Transportation is trying to alleviate congestion on Harvey Avenue using new technology to time lights at cross streets.

The beta test last week, however, was an admitted failure, as many drivers who were stuck with seemingly unending red lights will tell you.

Brigid McGoran Canil, director for transportation systems and road safety engineering, says they piggy-backed on a new system used by the City of Toronto to solve the Harvey Avenue parking lot. New sensors and cameras were to make light times more responsive to traffic trying to cross. Harvey Avenue lights should remain green if no one is trying to cross, for example.

But that’s not what happened.

“We turned it on on May 6 and it was just too much information coming in so we had to turn it off. It just locked up a couple of the traffic controllers,” she said. “We were trying to fix congestion, we didn't mean to cause more congestion last week so I understand that there are some people out there that are frustrated but we're going to continue to try and find a solution for the Kelowna Highway 97-Harvey Avenue area.”

It was the first time the ministry has tried the new technology. Highway 97 from Abbott Street to Gordon Drive is one of the busiest stretches in the province that has traffic lights. Highways in the Lower Mainland tend to be divided roads with overpasses.

McGoran Canil is an engineer and she and her team are responsible for, among other things, traffic operations and intelligent transportation systems for any numbered highway in the province of BC.

READ MORE: Rush hour traffic through Kelowna is as good as it’s going to get

They are the ones who time the lights on Harvey, which is a frequent complaint among commuters who seem to hit every light going through.

She says the timing of the lights are intended to get cars through the lights.

“That is by design. We do have our signals in coordination so if you do go a certain speed and you happen to be at a certain time you can hit green going in either direction. We designed for that,” she says. “A percentage of drivers should be able to get a green wave — all green lights. Not every driver is going to get that because they have to arrive at a certain moment and travel at a certain speed and get through at a certain speed.”

Her team is going to take another run at implementing the new technology once they work out the bugs and figure out the best time to do it.

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