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Green light, Source: Porto Municipality/ Miguel Nogueira

Traffic lights court saga nearing its end in Porto

Traffic lights court saga nearing its end in Porto

Meanwhile, spare parts are getting harder to find for the current devices

Sometimes, progress in the introduction of innovations and progress on a municipal level can be hindered by a slow and cumbersome legal system, rather than by lack of will among the authorities. Such is the case with the planned installation of new and modern traffic lights on the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city.

For the last three years the traffic in that municipality has been, figuratively speaking, hostage to a decision on the rightful awarding of the call, whereby said decision has been challenged by the company that was placed second in the competition. At last, the impasse seems to have been broken since, on 27 November, the Northern Administrative Tribunal of the Iberian country granted the right to Porto to revoke the expiry of the contract awarding.

About time to upgrade the existing traffic control system and improve safety

Porto’s municipal website informed that the traffic control system that is in place there was installed in 1993 and has been considered obsolete for a long time now. Only between February 2019 and February 2020, some 2000 traffic light failures were recorded.

The issue is that most of the 300 traffic installations are made of copper, a material that is quite sensitive to weather changes, such as thunderstorms, so in rough weather, the lights often go out of order. Adding to that is the fact that the kind of software they operate on is also obsolete, so they have to be fixed and rebooted manually each time which takes up time and effort and consequently confuses the drivers.

City officials have reported that while awaiting the court decision they had to get resourceful. The issue with older technology is that production of its spare parts has been discontinued. It turns out the only place where they could find the necessary parts was on eBay, having to bid for them.

It seems, however, that soon Porto drivers and the traffic department will be able to look forward and enjoy new traffic lights. However, in order to prevent the repetition of such ‘legal imbroglios’ Rui Moreira, the Mayor of Porto, has been actively calling for the return of “reasoned resolutions” – an instrument that would allow the proceeding of projects even if there is concurrent litigation.

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