ITE Journal - March 2020 - 20

| member to member

Signal Savvy
Steve Gault, P.E., PTOE (M) knows better than most just how intricate the work of traffic signals
can be. He talks to ITE Journal about traffic signalization technologies, the evolution of data collection
and its impact on the field, and how ITE has helped shape his career so far.

Steve Gault, P.E., PTOE (M)
Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation (PennDOT)
Chief, TSMO Arterials and Planning Section
Previous Experience
Traffic Project Manager,
Michael Baker International
Township Administrator/Engineer,
Mount Joy Township
Project Manager,
Traffic Planning and Design, Inc.
ITE Leadership Positions
Membership Chair, Mid-Atlantic Section-
January 2017-Present
Technical Committee, Mid-Colonial District
Annual Meeting - 2019, 2020
Vendor and Sponsors Coordinator,
Mid Colonial District Annual Meeting - 2018
Mid-Atlantic Section Annual
Meeting Chair - 2010

ITE JOURNAL: At PennDOT, your responsibilities include helping to implement the latest
technologies for traffic signals. With so many technologies available, what are some of your
strategies for researching and acquiring new products?
GAULT: Before new traffic signal technology is approved for sale in Pennsylvania, we review
the manufacturer's literature, gather insight from sales representatives and other states, and
look to deploy a demonstration unit to test the products under real-world conditions.
	 Building a strong network with traffic signal equipment vendors and suppliers is
critical, whether it's through exhibit booths or more personalized demonstrations of their
products. We also leverage these relationships to help the manufacturers know our needs
as they consider new products for development. It's important to get out of the office and
see equipment actually operating in the field. Whether it's with a contractor or agency
maintenance staff, engineers benefit from seeing how different types of equipment work,
knowing what their limitations are, and determining first-hand what locations are good
candidates for specific types of technology. One size doesn't fit all.
ITEJ: How have you seen the technology around traffic signals evolve over the past couple of
decades that you have been in the industry? What are you most excited by?
GAULT: I'm most excited about the ability to use technology to automate data collection and
analysis, particularly with Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPM). This is
allowing signal engineers to focus more time on solving problems rather than hoping to find
the problem with expensive and limited traffic counts.
	 My search for better data to understand and improve traffic signal operations began
when I was sitting at hundreds of intersections manually counting turning movements early
in my career. This led to experimenting with data from closed loop systems, but this often
had similar limitations of binned data. Thanks to the research and leadership of Purdue
University, Indiana DOT, and Utah DOT, we now have timestamped event-log data. Instead
of spending countless hours trying to model what happened in the past to predict what might
happen in the future, we know exactly what happened and
why it happened. The power of this data is just starting to be
unlocked, and the future potential to improve signal operations
is boundless.

Steve at the installation of the first flashing yellow arrow in Pennsylvania.
20

Ma rch 2020

ite j o u rn al

ITEJ: You also help provide guidance to other entities in the
maintenance and operation of ITS and traffic signal systems.
Do any stories come to mind when you were able to help such
entities solve a major issue with traffic flow/calming through
signal improvement?
GAULT: My favorite examples are when we can leverage
equipment already at a traffic signal to more efficiently serve
traffic. A decade ago, I was helping a local municipality which
was paying significant police overtime to manually control
several signals to manage traffic leaving a minor league hockey



ITE Journal - March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - March 2020

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