The mission of the Traffic Division is to provide and maintain the controls necessary for the safe movement of traffic with minimum delay by using nationally accepted standards, guidelines and procedures.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides guidelines and procedures concerning a number of topics including, but not limited to traffic signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings. The MUTCD has been officially adopted by the City of Norman. Click here to be directed to the website containing the current edition of the MUTCD.
The Traffic Division operates and maintains more than 168 traffic and pedestrian signals, 30,000 traffic control signs, 23 pay stations, and 9 single-space parking meters. In addition, the Division maintains pavement markings on approximately 200 miles of City streets.
The Traffic Division is also responsible for the collection of traffic data and the evaluation of traffic control needs at intersections and along roadways. The City of Norman used to publish traffic count maps but stopped several years ago. The most recent maps may be found by clicking on one of the links below.
Now, the Traffic Division provides traffic count information to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) for their use and for publication on their website. This website also maintains historical count data making it unnecessary to continue publication of the traffic count maps. Click here to view the ACOG Traffic Count Database System.
- Provide a transportation system that allows the safe, orderly and predictable movement of all traffic, motorized and non-motorized.
- Provide and maintain the control, guidance and warning devices necessary for the efficient movement of people and goods.
- Respond to citizen requests in a courteous, timely and efficient manner.
- Provide prompt assistance to other City Departments and Divisions.
- Ensure employee safety.
- Investigate traffic problems reported by the public in a timely manner.
- Complete traffic studies in a timely manner.
- Review plans in a timely manner.
- Maintain high quality pavement markings on roadways with more than 1,000 vehicles per day on average.Stripe high traffic volume roadways (with more than 10,000 vehicles per day) utilizing thermoplastic which is re-striped every four (4) to six (6) years depending on wear. All other roadways with more than 1,000 vehicles per day are striped annually utilizing waterborne paint.
- Respond to damaged traffic control signs in a timely manner.
- Respond to traffic signal malfunctions in a timely manner.
- Perform preventive maintenance on all traffic signal and parking meter equipment.
- Provide a safe working environment for all employees.
- Maintain traffic signal timing plans for coordination of urban arterials on closed loop systems.
- Respond to neighborhood requests for traffic calming projects.
- Provide assistance with the City’s Adopt a Street Program
To view a recent presentation (July 8, 2010) at an informational meeting on traffic calming, please click on the following link. Walnut Road Traffic Calming Project Informational Meeting.
Speeding on Residential Streets
One of the most persistent and emotional complaints that the City of Norman receives is speeding and “cut-through” driving on residential streets. Each year, there are numerous requests received by City council members and other City administration and staff to “do something” about the problem. Proper street design is essential in encouraging lower speeds, minimizing cut-through traffic, and maintaining the integrity of residential neighborhoods. Through the City platting and development process, new subdivisions are now being designed to avoid long straight stretches of streets which encourage higher speeds.
It is on the long segments of existing streets that most of the speeding complaints are generated. In the past, issues of speeding and cut-through traffic could only be addressed through educational efforts, expanded police enforcement, and the unwarranted use of regulatory signs. Now, however, traffic calming techniques have been developed to reduce speeding problems and heavy flow on residential streets. By making some residential streets more “calm,” it makes the neighborhood more livable. These physical calming measures have been developed for use when education and enforcement endeavors have failed. In response to many citizen inquiries, the Traffic Division created an informational brochure that could be distributed to those citizens seeking additional information. To access a copy of this brochure, please click on the following: Traffic Calming Brochure. In addition, the City has developed a Traffic Calming Program Procedures Manual. To view a copy of this manual, click on the following: Traffic Calming Manual.
Why not STOP Signs?
STOP signs are regulatory installations that require enforcement. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD], which includes policies and guidelines for the installation of STOP signs, has also been adopted by the City Of Norman (Section 20-1112 of the City’s Code of Ordinances). The policies it contains identify specific traffic and pedestrian volumes, accident history, and any unusual conditions which will result in the desired driver response once a traffic control device is installed. If those conditions are not present, a percentage of the drivers will ignore the traffic control device. Furthermore, the belief that a device is not needed or warranted tends to jeopardize the effectiveness of all traffic control devices. It is for this reason that MUTCD specifically says that STOP signs shall not be used for speed control.
There is no single measure, such as STOP signs or speed humps, for solving all residential traffic problems. Each location has its uniqueness that must be analyzed to identify solutions. For this reason, the City of Norman, like several other communities nationwide, has developed a calming toolbox for customizing solutions. Among the “self-enforcing” devices in the toolbox are:
- Choker Curbs
- Offset Choker Curbs
- Curb Bulb-outs
- Center Island Medians
- Divided Residential Entrances
- Traffic Circles
- Raised Crosswalks
- Speed Humps/Tables
- Turn Restriction Barriers*
- Diagonal Diverters*
- Semi-Diverters (Half Closures)*
- Mid-Block Closures*
- Complete Road Closures*
* Note: The measures that change traffic circulation patterns require input from emergency responders and City Council discussion and approval.
For a street to be eligible for the Traffic Calming Program, certain qualifying criteria must be met:
- “85th Percentile Speed” must exceed 33 mph
- Average Daily Traffic (ADT) must exceed 600 vehicles per day.
If the number of reported speed-related accidents in a 3-year period exceeds 5 accidents, this can be used as a substitute criterion in lieu of either the speed or volume requirement.
Going through the Process
The first step in the process of getting a traffic calming project is to collect traffic data on the street.
This requires a written request, signed by 4 or more residents on the street, to be sent to: City Transportation Engineer, Public Works Department, 201-A West Gray, Norman, OK 73069.
The data collection is scheduled during the spring months while school is in session so we can get a more typical view of the traffic. After analyzing the data, the City will notify the requester as to whether or not the street qualifies for a calming project. If it does, the next steps will be:
- Deployment of speed feedback radar trailer and/or enhanced police enforcement.
- Second traffic study to evaluate the effect of the enforcement efforts.
- If the problem persists, a neighborhood meeting is scheduled to discuss a more permanent calming plan (typically in late summer and early fall).
- Circulation of a support petition (60% needed) (typically in the fall until the end of the year).
- Hiring of a contractor (typically in January).
- Construction (during the spring and summer months).
The entire process takes approximately one year if all time window deadlines are met.
Street and traffic control sign plans shall be prepared by and/or approved by the City Transportation Engineer or his designee. The developer shall be responsible for street name and other traffic control signage in all subdivisions, both public and private. For public subdivisions, the City will furnish and install these signs for the developer on the basis of the City's current price schedule. For private subdivisions, the developer may, at his option, pay the City for the installation of the signs or hire a private contractor to do the work. Either way, the signs shall meet the latest requirements outlined in the latest edition of the MUTCD. Payment for public subdivision signs shall be made to the City before the final plat is filed. In the case of a private subdivision, either payment to the City or installation of the signs by a private contractor will be required prior to the filing of the final plat.
A work zone traffic control plan shall be provided to the City Transportation Engineer, or his designee, for review and approval prior to the initiation of any work that will impact existing streets.
Citizens or neighborhood groups desiring to purchase signing shall contact the City Transportation Engineer or his designee. The City of Norman maintains a price schedule for signs that includes, if desired, the sign face, the sign support, and charges for installation by City forces. Any, or all, of the items related to the sign installation are available for purchase provided the request meets the requirements of the current edition of the MUTCD.
Plans for striping of streets shall be reviewed by the City Transportation Engineer or his designee. The installing contractor is to be approved by the City Transportation Engineer or his designee. Striping materials shall be in accordance with Section 2304.8 of the City's Standard Specifications and Construction Drawings. Striping shall be in accordance with the following schedule:
- For streets and roadways with traffic in excess of 4,000 vehicles per day, thermoplastic striping (full thickness) shall be applied
- For streets and roadways with traffic between 2,000 and 4,000 vehicles per day, thermoplastic striping (one-half thickness) shall be applied
- For streets and roadways with traffic between 1,000 and 2,000 vehicles per day, paint striping shall be applied
- For streets and roadway with traffic less than 1,000 vehicles per day, no striping shall be applied
Traffic Control Devices on Private Property
City staff is often asked about the type of traffic control devices (signing, marking, etc.) that should be placed on private property. The answer is that traffic control devices placed on private property are also susceptible to the standards set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD states that traffic control devices should be uniform from state to state as well as from public property to private property. Motorists often cannot tell what is public and what may be private. To address some of these issues, staff has created an informational brochure regarding the placement of traffic control devices on private property. To view this brochure, please click on the following: Informational Brochure for Traffic Control Devices on Private Property.
Traffic Engineering FAQ
What is traffic engineering?
Traffic Engineering is the field of engineering which deals with the planning, design, construction, and operation of roads, streets, and highways, their networks, terminals, access to abutting lands and relationships with other modes of transportation for the achievement of safe, efficient, and convenient movement of persons and goods. Traffic Engineering applies engineering principles to existing transportation facilities to help solve transportation problems, and takes in account the knowledge of psychology and habits of users of the transportation systems.
What is the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices?
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD, is a set of standards issued by the Federal Highway Administration. The MUTCD was developed to ensure that all traffic signs are identical and comply with the same standards.
Traffic Signals FAQ
When should a traffic signal be installed?
Traffic signals should only be installed when they are warranted as determined by an engineering study. A warranted traffic signal that is properly located and operated may provide for more orderly movement of traffic, and may reduce the occurrence of certain types of crashes. On the other hand, an unwarranted traffic signal can result in increased delay, congestion, and crashes. Installations are based on engineering studies that consider the following:
- Excessive side street volumes
- Pedestrian delays and/or pedestrian safety
- Crash history
- Flow of traffic along major street
- Side street delays
- Uniform traffic flow
What is traffic signal coordination?
Traffic signal coordination is when two or more traffic signals are working together so that cars moving through the group of signals will make the least number of stops possible.
Does traffic signal coordination mean that I will never have to stop for a red light?
No. There are many reasons why you will still have to stop at red lights. Each of the reasons has to do with the amount of time available for the green light in your direction.
- Pedestrian crossings—For safety, enough time must be allowed for a pedestrian to cross the street from curb-to-curb, walking at a pace of about three to four feet per second.
- Cross traffic—Like pedestrian crossings, enough time must be allocated to clear the waiting traffic on the cross street. The heavier the cross traffic, such as is experienced near schools and businesses, the more time that is needed to clear them through the intersection and the less time that is available for the green light in the “coordinated” direction.
- Left-turn signals—Where left-turning traffic is especially heavy and/or the amount of opposing traffic is so heavy that there are not enough gaps in the traffic to safely complete a left-turn, a protected left-turn signal is usually installed. The amount of time for protected left-turning traffic also limits the time permitted for the “through” traffic flow in the opposite direction.
- Two-way traffic flow—The distance between traffic signals and the speed of the traffic determine the way in which the green lights at the next traffic signal align. When the spacing is not equal between traffic signals, the green lights may only line up well in one direction. When this happens, the City tries to line up the green lights in the direction with the most traffic. The traffic in the other direction may have to stop occasionally as a result.
- Off-peak traffic periods—Traffic signals are not coordinated 24 hours a day. During times when traffic is light, traffic signals are usually allowed to run independently. Traffic signals are most often coordinated during the “peak” travel times when traffic is heaviest, usually between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM.
Why do I have to wait so long for a green light on a side street?
In order to have coordinated traffic signals, each traffic signal in the group must be able to allow the green light for all movements during a common fixed time period. The time period chosen is usually determined by the largest intersection with the most different movements. This will most often be an intersection that has protected left-turn arrows for all directions and wide cross streets. For that reason, the time period that is fixed for each traffic signal (the cycle length) may be rather long. So, if you are waiting for a green light to cross the “coordinated” street where there are protected left-turn arrows and there is very light traffic on the side street, chances are good that you will feel like you are waiting for a long time, even though you should rarely have to wait any longer than about two minutes.
Will more STOP signs slow traffic on a street?
Many requests are received for STOP signs to interrupt traffic or to slow speeding vehicles. However, studies across the nation show that there have been a high number of intentional violations when STOP signs are installed as nuisances or “speedbreakers.” While studies show that speed is reduced in the immediate vicinity of unwarranted STOP signs, speeds are often higher between intersections than before the unwarranted signs were installed. This is caused by motorists “making up for lost time.”
Who decides where to locate signs along our roadways? Couldn’t we have more safety and directional guide signs along our roads?
Guidelines for the size, shape, color, wording, symbols and location of traffic signs on state roads are set forth in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This manual sets forth the basic principles that govern the design and use of traffic control devices. According to the manual, to be effective a device should fulfill a need, command attention, convey a clear, simple meaning, command respect of road users, and give adequate time for proper response. Any additional safety and directional signs would have to meet these standards and fall within the specific guidelines for each device. Too many signs would fail to convey the clear, simple message that is intended for the motorists.
Pavement Markings FAQ
When is striping provided in the center of the roadway?
Centerline markings shall be placed on paved streets and highways as follows:
- All rural arterials and collectors with a travel way 18 feet or more in width and Average Daily Traffic Volumes of 1,000 vehicles per day or greater.
- All urban arterials and collectors with a travel way 20 feet or more in width and Average Daily Traffic Volumes of 5,000 vehicles per day or greater.
- All two-way streets and highways having three or more travel lanes.
Centerline markings should be placed on paved streets and highways as follows:
- Urban arterials and collectors with a travel way of 20 feet and Average Daily Traffic Volumes of 2,500 vehicles per day or greater.
- At other locations where an engineering study indicates a need for them.
Centerline markings may be placed on paved streets and highways with a width of 16 feet or greater.
When is striping provided on the edges of the roadway?
Edgeline markings shall be placed on all rural arterials with a travel way 20 feet or more in width and an Average Daily Traffic Volume of 1,000 vehicles per day or higher.
Edgeline markings should be placed on streets as follows:
- Rural collectors with a travel way of 20 feet or more in width and where the edge of the travel way is not otherwise marked with curbs or other pavement markings.
- At other locations where an engineering study indicates a need for them.
Edgeline markings may be placed on streets with or without marked center lines.
Traffic Calming FAQ
What is traffic calming?
Traffic calming slows speeding traffic on residential streets without restricting access to them.
Is any road a candidate for traffic calming?
Traffic calming applies only to existing streets. It does not apply to future roads or subdivision streets under construction. It also does not apply to high-speed, high-volume roads.
How long is the process from the time the request for traffic calming is made initially?
The entire process takes approximately one year assuming that no delays are encountered along the way
Speed Limit FAQ
How are speed limits determined?
City ordinance sets the prima facie speed limit in Norman based upon the type of roadway under investigation. Motorists are to assume this prima facie limit is in effect unless there are signs posting a different speed limit. Speeds greater that the prima facie speed limit can be set on the roadways by the City Transportation Engineer, or his designee, based upon engineering studies that incorporate the following factors:
- Prevailing speed of motorists as determined in a speed study
- Roadway development including land use type, driveway spacing, and parking practice
- Crash experience
- Function classification of the streets
- Roadway characteristics including alignment, surface, grade, sight distance, and design speed
Will a lower speed limit help reduce speeding?
No. Research conducted throughout the country over several decades has shown that drivers are influenced by the type of street and current traffic conditions, and not the posted speed limit.