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Traffic Signals Optimization

Traffic Signals Optimization
Project description
The Climate Trust contracted to buy offsets from a City of Portland project that improves the timing of traffic signals. Over a five-year period, the former Portland Office of Sustainable Development (now the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) worked with the Portland Office of Transportation, Washington County, and the Oregon Department of Transportation to improve signal timing on 17 major metropolitan area arterials. Traffic signal system operators conducted studies and took specific steps to optimize the flow of traffic on some of Portland's most congested thoroughfares.

By reducing idling and acceleration, emissions of carbon dioxide from gasoline and diesel fuel decreased. This project also reduced emissions of other tailpipe pollutants.

City program costs are covered through a pay-for-performance contract with The Climate Trust. After the signal timing has been completed, The Climate Trust pays Portland based upon the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that will be avoided. The City of Portland transfers ownership of the carbon dioxide offsets created by these reduced emissions to The Climate Trust.

How the project reduces emissions
This project helps reduce emissions from vehicles by reducing the amount of time cars spend idling at and accelerating from traffic lights. Improved traffic flow and reduced fuel waste from stop-and-go driving leads to less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

Why carbon finance was needed
The Climate Trust's funding for the traffic signal optimization was critical as the previous government funding sources had been unavailable.



Funded by: Oregon Program

Project type: Transportation efficiency

Standard: Oregon Standard

Project term: 10 years

Contract date: 2002

Location: Oregon

Partners: Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

  • Commuters save time traveling across town
  • Commuters save money on gasoline
  • Reduces other vehicular air pollution
  • Serves as a model for other traffic signal offset projects

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65 SW Yamhill Street, Suite 400;
Portland, Oregon 97204