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Traffic Signals

The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works maintains over 770 intersections with traffic signals as well as all flashing beacons and other electronic signs.  All traffic signals must conform to Part 4 of the Federal Manual on Uniform Control Devices (MUTCD) as well as the Wisconsin Supplement to the MUTCD.  All traffic control devices including traffic signals are used to assign right-of-way between conflicting movements including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.  Traffic control devices are not used to control vehicle speeds. 

All signals within the City of Milwaukee have been converted to light emitting diode (LED) indications with larger 12-inch “Walk/Don’t Walk” signals and pedestrian countdown timers.  These improvements have reduced crashes at signalized intersections while reducing electrical usage by over 75 percent since 2005.

DPW is currently in the process of further upgrades to traffic signal infrastructure including the installation of modern traffic signal controllers and cabinets and improved communications to keep pace with changes in technology.  These improvements have been implemented in conjunction with the Hop streetcar and will be used for other projects to make our traffic signals more efficient for vehicular traffic while also serving the needs of improved transit operations and a better experience for bicyclists and pedestrians in Milwaukee.  DPW is on pace to complete these upgrades at most of our traffic signals by the mid-2020’s.

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  Report a Traffic Signal Outage or Request Maintenance

Contact the Unified Call Center at (414) 286-CITY (2489) or go online and Click for Action to report the problem traffic signal.  

  How are Signals Timed?

Nearly all of the traffic signals operated by DPW are coordinated with one another and operate on 60 to 90 second cycles.  This means that drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists will not wait longer than 90 seconds to get a green or “Walk” signal, though most wait less than that.  All of the traffic signals in Milwaukee are periodically optimized using computer modeling software and traffic volume data to ensure optimal operations for all users of our system.

“Walk” signals are not intended to provide enough time for pedestrians to cross a roadway at a traffic signal.  The pedestrian signals are timed to ensure that pedestrians walking at normal speeds can finish crossing during a flashing “Don’t Walk” if they start during the “Walk” signal.  However, DPW does provide enough time for nearly all pedestrians to cross a roadway

if they start crossing the beginning of the “Walk”.  Always be sure to use a push button where present to make sure the “Walk” signals are activated at an intersection with a green signal for vehicular traffic.

  How to Request a New Traffic Signal

DPW recommends new traffic signals be installed following federal guidance in Part 4 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  There are nine warrants in the MUTCD based on such factors as vehicular and pedestrian volumes as well as crash history and other factors.  However, meeting the warrants for installation does not automatically mean a traffic signal must or even should be installed.  Other treatments may also be used to ensure safe and efficient operation of an intersection.

Traffic signals are only installed on major roadways in the City of Milwaukee and are not installed where two local residential streets cross.  For these locations additional signing such as stop signs are typically considered to safely regulate conflicting traffic.

To initiate a traffic signal study, DPW requests that you contact the office of your district alderperson.

  Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are a special type of control used at pedestrian crossings and are used at various locations in Milwaukee.  Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons rest in dark mode for vehicular traffic until a pedestrian activates the beacons using a push button to bring up the “Walk” signals.  Upon activation, the beacons will cycle from flashing yellow to steady yellow and finally to two solid red displays.  During the solid red displays, the “Walk” signal is displayed for pedestrians.  Following the “Walk” signal, the flashing “Don’t Walk” is displayed for pedestrians and the vehicle displays will change to an alternating red.  After pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk, stopped vehicles may proceed.

  Accessible Pedestrian Signals

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) have been installed by DPW at over 30 intersections in Milwaukee.  APS are a special type of pedestrian push button that emit special tones and sounds to assist visually impaired pedestrians crossing at traffic signals.

Due to limited funding, DPW typically installs a handful of new APS locations every year.  We prioritize all requests for APS installation using guidelines established in NCHRP Web-Only Document 150

For new APS requests, DPW requests that you contact the office of your district alderperson


  Request a Certified Traffic Signal Timing Schedule

Per 81-128 of the City of Milwaukee Code of Ordinances, DPW can provide a certified copy of a traffic signal timing schedule for an intersection based on programming data from our records. The fee is $30 per intersection payable to the City of Milwaukee.  All requests must be made in writing and should include the following:

  • intersection(s), i.e., West Wisconsin Avenue and North 6th Street
  • date
  • time 

Please mail both the request and payment of $30 per intersection in the form of a check to:

Department of Public Works
Traffic Engineering
841 North Broadway, Room 920
Milwaukee, WI 53202


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