Atlanta’s ‘smart’ North Avenue sports the latest traffic technology

Atlanta unveiled a stretch of “smart” road Thursday that could help usher in an era of driverless cars and transform the city’s transportation infrastructure.

The North Avenue Smart Corridor Project – which stretches from the Coca-Cola headquarters and Georgia Tech to the Ponce City Market – includes adaptive traffic signals, high-definition cameras and other technology that advocates say will improve safety and speed traffic on a busy east-west street.

Don’t expect to see fully autonomous vehicles driving down North Avenue any time soon – there are still technological and legal hurdles to overcome. But if all goes well, North Avenue will become a model street for Atlanta and the nation.

“Atlanta will become a national leader in the smart-cities movement,” Mayor Kasim Reed said at a ceremony at Ponce City Market Thursday.

The $3 million project brought several new technologies to the 2.3-mile stretch of North Avenue. Among them:

• Adaptive traffic signals, which monitor traffic flow and can make real-time adjustments. By allowing the lights to adjust their timing as needed, the new technology could cut commute times along a corridor that carries nearly 29,000 vehicles a day in some spots.

• Video surveillance cameras, which monitor pedestrians and bicycles as well as vehicles. Among other things, the cameras could detect pedestrians crossing the road, allowing a traffic signal to wait just a little longer to turn green so they can finish crossing.

• “Connected vehicle systems” technology that could allow traffic signals to communicate with autonomous vehicles or with drivers’ smart phones. Such technology might tell you to slow down as you approach an intersection so you can catch a green light, for example. Or it might alert you if you’re speeding through a school zone.

• A system that allows emergency vehicles to preempt traffic signals and speed through intersections.

These and other technologies could save lives and substantially reduce traffic congestion, according to Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.

He said the North Avenue project is just one example of how the Peach State is embracing new traffic technologies. Georgia already has more than 300 adaptive traffic signals – most of them in Cobb County and Sandy Springs – the most of any state.

“We want to be the early adopters,” McMurry said.

Atlanta already is using such technology to manage traffic at big events. Typically, it can take 90 minutes to empty a parking garage after an event at Philips Arena. But such technology allowed the city to cut that time in half after a recent event, according to Faye DiMassimo, general manager of the city’s Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond program.

Georgia Tech plans to analyze data from sensors along North Avenue to help Atlanta set benchmarks for congestion relief and other areas. The information will be used to help create similar corridors elsewhere.

Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta and Buckhead Loop are among the streets that could see such technology in the near future.


The AJC's David Wickert keeps you updated on the latest in what’s happening with transportation in metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta transportation news. Subscribe to

In other Transportation news:

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Police: NYC man stalks 8-year-old girl, 12-year-old brother
Police: NYC man stalks 8-year-old girl, 12-year-old brother

New York City police are searching for a man who has been stalking an 8-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother in Brooklyn, WPIX reported. The man allegedly left a note in the family’s mailbox, which read “Watch out. I am watching you!! Your daughter is cute.” The alleged stalker is described as a black male, bald, about...
Showers lead to traffic delays, backups
Showers lead to traffic delays, backups

Today: Thunderstorms. High: 70 Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low: 66 Tomorrow: Breezy. High: 66 Rain is moving through metro Atlanta and making for a messy morning commute, according to Channel 2 Action News. “If you can wait till daybreak,” traffic reporter Mark Arum said, “you may have a better chance of (not getting)...
UK restaurant leaves bags of food for homeless
UK restaurant leaves bags of food for homeless

A restaurant in the United Kingdom wants the homeless people in its area to be left holding the bag. At the end of each day, the Bosu Body Bar in Manchester leaves brown paper bags of leftover food outside its location for the homeless people in the area. “When we close the doors for the day, we promise to leave bags outside full of tasty food...
The most dramatic exchange in the WSB Atlanta mayoral debate
The most dramatic exchange in the WSB Atlanta mayoral debate

Atlanta Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms. AJC/Phil Skinner The most dramatic moment in WSB’s Atlanta mayoral debate came near the end of the 90-minute event, when former state Sen. Vincent Fort took a calculated swipe at Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms – as if inviting her to jab back. She did, knocking him over tax liens...
Atlanta mayor’s race: Norwood would support vendor donation limits
Atlanta mayor’s race: Norwood would support vendor donation limits

At least one of the major candidates in the race to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed signaled support for possible limits on political donations from city vendors. City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, responding to a question Sunday during a WSB-TV debate, said she would support restrictions on campaign donations from current or would-be city vendors to mayoral...
More Stories