Portland, Maine, has a problem, and it's one that is easily fixed. You may not notice it if you are driving in Portland during the day, but if you commute to work early in the morning or out on the streets late at night, you may find yourself so frustrated that you run a red light.

In 2018, Forest Avenue, Portland's busiest traffic corridor, had a traffic system installed in an effort to ease traffic congestion. It works pretty well. According to the Portland Press Herald, it has reduced the amount of traffic by 20%. That's good news if you're driving in traffic, but not so good if you're one of the few people on the road at 4 a.m. on your way to work.

This system seems to function 24 hours a day, which creates a problem when you are at a red light with no one else in sight all up and down Forest Avenue.

Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media
Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media

There are 19 traffic lights in Portland on my route to work from the beginning of Forest Avenue on the Westbrook/Portland line to downtown Portland at One City Center. This morning, I stopped for a red light at 17 of them, and of those 17, I stopped with no other cars in sight at all but two.

I also timed how long I sat at red lights on my way in, and had a total of 10 minutes and 22 seconds. All that waiting at lights for no one.

Cameras are mounted at all the traffic lights, but apparently aren't being used to detect cars at the intersection, as every single one of them runs a preprogrammed cycle that does not adjust itself to the lack of traffic. Traffic lights have been able to do this for decades, so aren't Portland's lights doing it?

These wait times for no oncoming traffic have caused drivers (including myself on occasion) to run the red lights. I'm not proud of that and know I could still get stopped by police for it, but it's super frustrating to be stopped for 10 minutes on my trip on Forest Avenue, waiting for no one.

Can't we just go back to the old-school way of setting traffic lights to flash red in all directions overnight? Make this happen, Portland.

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