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Traffic lights


Traffic control and traffic signals


Wolverhampton has a long history of urban traffic control and was the first town in Britain to introduce automated electric traffic signals in 1927.

The lights were located in Princes Square  at the junction of Lichfield Street and Princess Street during 1927.

Since that time, the network of installations has increased to 203 traffic signal sites of which 89 are traffic signal junctions and, 114 are pedestrian crossing facilities.

Traffic Management today

Wolverhampton's principal road network radiates from the ring road, which encircles the city centre.

The road network includes ten major routes (68.1kms in length) and totals 669 kms throughout the city.

An annual daily average traffic flow of 234,000 vehicles an hour use the ring road and its approaches.

In order to meet and control these demands, an holistic approach has been taken to manage the use of the road network through the use of an Urban Traffic Control (UTC) system.

Urban Traffic Control Centre

The Urban Traffic Control Centre (UTC) centre was established in 1977 and now manages the control of traffic signals not only within Wolverhampton but also for our neighbouring authority, Dudley MBC and the street running sections of the Midland Metro.

The UTC now provides key services for:

  • the development, operation, control and maintenance of all Traffic Signals,
  • Variable Message Signs (VMS) for Driver Information at the roadside
  • Car Park Guidance Systems in the City centre,
  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) for Emergency Vehicle and Bus Priority at key junctions,
  • ITS - recording of Bus Lane Infringements and
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) of the highway network,
  • Other functions undertaken by the UTC centre include the co-ordination of Traffic Regulations & Management, and On-Street Parking.

The operation and control of traffic signals is a critical aspect of our work. To perform this task an advanced Traffic Management System is used. This computer system monitors the signals throughout the network via direct communication links from special traffic counters buried in the highway. The computer control system employs a technique called SCOOT which sends messages back to the traffic signals and adjust signal timings on a real-time basis to maximise efficiency and reduce congestion throughout the highway network. Unfortunately this does not mean a driver can expect to see all green signals on his chosen route. Indeed the system does not know the routings of any vehicles only the volumes of traffic on the approaches to each set or group of traffic signals are used to set the signal timings .

Under certain circumstances it may be necessary for the operator to manually intervene and alter timings at particular locations to assist traffic along the network. For example, where vehicles have broken down or there are road works or special events e.g. after a Wolves home football match. 

Monitoring the highway network

The UTC centre also monitors traffic on the major road network and other sensitive areas through a network of 68 CCTV cameras. The pictures are shared with the West Midlands Police with whom the centre works closely in dealing with traffic incidents and other observed events. The cameras are viewed in real time on the bank of 28 monitors in the UTC centre and record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

The information gained on traffic conditions is provided to the public in a number of different ways:-

  • Help2Travel the West Midlands web-based traffic information system (covering regional travel information for the West Midlands, Leicestershire, and Warwickshire areas)
  • local radio (most have RDS which allows traffic broadcasts to interrupt other in-car entertainment channels)
  • Driver information signs located along the roadside on major routes and
  • Car park guidance system giving the availability of spaces (but not the number of spaces) in City centre car parks 

Traffic Signal Priority

Selective Vehicle Detection (SVD) is provided at key traffic signal junctions to give priority to emergency vehicles and buses. Currently there are 25 traffic signals with this facility.  

Traffic Regulations and Management

The UTC service also:-

  • implements Traffic Regulation Orders,
  • authorises temporary traffic signals,
  • provides advice on abnormal loads routings,
  • implements road closures,
  • investigates parking on verges, and
  • undertakes pedestrian and vehicle surveys and other general traffic related matters.

On-Street parking

The service administers the provision of on-street parking by means of Pay and Display machines throughout the controlled traffic zone within the City centre. There are currently 47 Pay and Display machines covering approximately 520 spaces.

Reporting faults and failures

To report damage, faults or failures to traffic signals, signal controlled crossings or to seek further information from the Traffic Control Service please use this contact us form. We would also welcome feedback on our service and you can use the same form to provide you views.


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Copyright © 2007 Wolverhampton City Council - Page reviewed 09 July 2007