Traffic Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I tour the Traffic Management Center?
Traffic Operations welcomes anyone that would like a tour of our facility. Contact us at 221-6630 to set up an appointment.
- How many roundabouts are in the City?
There are approximately 30 smaller roundabouts in neighborhoods placed for aesthetics and traffic calming. There are two high capacity roundabouts in Fort Collins. The first is at Kechter Road and Ziegler Road the second is at Horsetooth Road and Ziegler Road.
- Why are trains allowed to come through town during rush hour?
As the saying goes, the railroad was here first and the City of Fort Collins was built around it. The reality is that the railroad companies have government priority, always receiving the right-of-way. The best that Traffic Operations can do is to alleviate the back-up once a train has finished crossing at an intersection. The Traffic Management Center gives Traffic Operations the ability to monitor a train’s movement through town and adjust for any back-up that may occur.
- The railroad arms are down and no train is present, what should I do?
Do not lift the railroad arms, as it is dangerous and illegal. Traffic Operations does not own or maintain this equipment and cannot lift the arms to allow traffic through. Call the City of Fort Collins Police Department non-emergency number at 221-6540 so that the proper railroad company can be notified.
- I see cameras at various intersections around town. What are they for?
There are three kinds of cameras you may see in Fort Collins: 1) Closed circuit television cameras located at major intersections (these are enclosed in a glass dome and usually located on or near a street light up at the top of a pole), 2) video detection cameras (cameras encased in a white tube and typically located on the mast arms at signalized intersections), 3) red light running cameras located at College/Drake and Harmony/Timberline.
- What are the cameras used for?
Closed circuit television cameras broadcast back to the Traffic Operations Center and are used to monitor traffic. Still pictures (updated about every 5 minutes) from the cameras are available to the public at fcgov.com/fctrip. Video detection cameras provide information to the traffic signal controller at an intersection so that it can allocate green time more intelligently based on the amount of traffic present. The red light cameras are operated by Fort Collins Police Services and are used to enforce red light laws.
- I was in a traffic accident near one of the camera locations, is it possible you have the incident on video tape?
The Traffic Operations Department does not record or keep records of the video images.
- Are traffic cameras used for police surveillance or investigations?
The CCTV and video detection cameras are only used to monitor traffic conditions.
- How many cameras does Traffic Operations have, and when and where will you add additional cameras?
There are currently 42 CCTV cameras located at most major intersections.
- Do the cameras monitor speeders or red light violators?
Only the red light cameras at College/Drake and at Timberline/Harmony are used for red light violations. The traffic cameras are not used for any police actions.
- What is the criterion for determining camera location?
The cameras are located throughout the city in an effort to get the best overall images of the traffic system. The cameras are primarily located at major intersections.
- Do traffic signals prevent collisions?
Traffic signals can increase safety when used properly but they are not a cure-all for safety concerns. While traffic signals typically reduce the number of right angle (broadside) collisions, the number of rear end and left turn crashes may actually increase.
- How much does a traffic signal cost?
Depending on geometrics and the type of signal designed, a traffic signal can cost $130,000 to $300,000.
- If a traffic signal appears to be malfunctioning, who do I contact?
Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, contact Traffic Operations at 221-6630. All other hours, contact the City of Fort Collins Police Department at the non-emergency number, 221-6540.
- Is it true that if I flash my headlights while approaching an intersection, the light will change to green for my direction?
A traffic signal will not change if you flash your headlights while approaching the intersection. The optical eye at an intersection is programmed to receive a specifically coded flash frequency, designed solely to accommodate Poudre Fire Authority and Poudre Valley Health System emergency vehicles.
- How does a traffic signal detect when a car is waiting?
There are two types of detectors currently being used in Fort Collins; inductive loops (wires in the pavement) and video cameras.
- What is the City doing to improve travel times?
The City completed a major re-timing of all of the traffic signals along major corridors in 2010. The goals of the project were to minimize stops and delays along main streets and also to reduce fuel consumption and air pollution. The final report from the project can be seen here: City of Fort Collins Signal Timing Report 2010 (PDF). Since the new timings were implemented the City continues to make adjustments to fine tune the system using updated traffic data and computer simulation models.
- Why does a signal change for no reason when no vehicles are present?
These signals are on a “fixed time” cycle (Downtown signals for example). Another reason may be the detection on the main street is malfunctioning so each phase of the signal is given time in the signal phasing.
- Why do some signals flash at night?
There are approximately 50 traffic signals that go to a flash operation at night. These intersections have very low volumes during the late night and have good sight distance. It is more efficient for the drivers to have a flash operation than running a timing pattern.
- If I push a pedestrian push button more than once, will the light change more rapidly?
When a button is pushed a call is placed and locked into the signal controller. However, like other traffic, pedestrians must still wait their turn to be served. So, the buttons do not shorten the wait time for pedestrians. Instead the buttons ensure that adequate time is provided to allow a pedestrian to cross. If the button is not pushed and traffic is light, the green light could be very short. Thus, as a pedestrian it is important to push the button but it only takes one push.
- Why doesn’t the WALK light stay on long enough for me to cross the street?
The pedestrian signals are timed to allow a person to walk across the street before conflicting traffic gets a green light. The "WALK" portion is only intended to get pedestrians started across the street. It is typically only on long enough for a person to make sure it is clear and then start walking. Most of the crossing actually occurs during the flashing "DON'T WALK" that follows the "WALK". Flashing "DON'T WALK" means it is okay to finish crossing once you've started but you should not start across if you haven't left the curb area yet. The steady "DON'T WALK" is next and it means to wait until the next "WALK" light is displayed before trying to cross.
- Why can’t we get a left-turn arrow at a signalized intersection?
Left turn arrows at signalized intersections are only installed when they are needed to facilitate traffic flow or where an identified left turn crash problem exists. The addition of a left turn arrow means that other movements will suffer more delay. This happens because the “green time” has to be taken from other movements in order to be allocated to left turns. To make a determination on whether a left turn arrow will help or hinder overall operations, traffic conditions are evaluated at intersections with and without arrows to determine which approach makes the intersection operate best overall.
- When a traffic signal is flashing, what do I do?
A flashing yellow light means approaching vehicles may proceed with caution. Left turning vehicles facing a flashing yellow or flashing yellow arrow must yield to oncoming traffic before making their turn. A flashing red light means that approaching vehicles must STOP and treat the approach as if it was controlled by a STOP sign, yielding to other traffic that has the right of way and proceeding only when safe to do so.
- When a traffic signal is completely dark, what do I do?
When a traffic signal is completely dark and no directions are lit or flashing, the intersection is to be treated as a 4-way stop.
Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Program
- Can we have a speed bump installed in our neighborhood?
The City offers physical traffic calming devices as an alternative on qualifying streets. Contact Traffic Operations at 970-221-6630 or via e-mail at for more information.
- Do the signs that display motorists speed take pictures of speeders?
No, the speed displays do not take pictures of speeders. They are traffic calming devices designed to alert drivers of their speed and remind them of the posted speed limit.
- I’ve seen various "Slow Down in Our Neighborhood" yard signs throughout the city; can I get some of those for my neighborhood?
The "Slow Down" yard signs can be picked up, free of charge, at the Traffic Operations building at 626 Linden Street, Monday through Friday between 8:00am - 5:00pm.
- I’ve seen flashing speed limit display signs, how can I get one of those installed in my neighborhood?
Traffic Operations currently has three portable flashing speed display signs and speed readout trailers. These signs are meant as traffic calming devices which are installed in various neighborhoods throughout the city for a period of one week. To have the speed trailer or one of the display signs in your neighborhood, contact Traffic Operations at 970-221-6630 to be put on the list.