Traffic Signals

Neenah currently manages 19 traffic signals throughout the city. All of Neenah’s traffic signals have “gone green” and have been converted from incandescent lamps to LEDs. There are many factors that decided whether a traffic signal is installed including traffic volumes, crash history, pedestrian activity, costs, and plausibility of alternatives to installing a traffic signal.

Most of Neenah’s traffic signals are programmed so that the amount of green time given to each direction fluctuates depending on the amount of traffic that sensors detect. Some of the Neenah’s traffic signals are timed so that they are synchronized together, meaning that the green times are fixed so that they can be timed with other traffic signals down the street to give a progression of green lights down a major corridor. There are several factors that play into what style of operation the traffic signals are programmed for, such as the volume of traffic, time of day, speed limits, amount of turning traffic, and distance between signals.

So have you ever been stopped at a traffic signal for an endless amount of time? Most of Neenah’s traffic signals are operated by sensors that detect vehicles. If you find yourself waiting a long time at a traffic signal, chances are that your vehicle is not being detected by the sensor. The best way to make sure you are detected is to position your vehicle just behind the painted stop line. Sometimes, you can also visibly see a detector’s locations indicated by the black tar rectangles in the pavement – but not always.

While there are many different types of sensors, the most common type used is called an induction loop. A loop is simply a coil of wire that is placed underneath the pavement, usually in the shape of a rectangle. When a large metal object is positioned over the loop (for example, a car), it affects the loop’s magnetic field. The traffic signal senses the change in the magnetic field and then knows that a vehicle has traveled over the loop.

As mentioned before, you can often see loops, because they are cut into the pavement and placed with black tar on top – but not always. If you are driving a motorcycle or riding a bicycle and can see the loop in the pavement, the best way to be detected is to place your tires directly on top of where the wires are (on top of the tar), not in the center of the loop.

For more information or if you are routinely experiencing a problem, you can use the “Report a Problem” link below or contact the Public Works Department by phone at 920-886-6240.

The City of Neenah has installed a pedestrian hybrid beacon on North Commercial Street at the Fox River Bridge (near Neenah Paper and the YMCA). The pedestrian hybrid beacon – also known as a HAWK – is a relatively new traffic control device approved by the Federal Highway Administration. Unlike a yellow flashing beacon, the pedestrian hybrid beacon signals the motorists to stop for a pedestrian. Unlike a standard traffic signal, the pedestrian hybrid beacon will allow motorists to proceed through the crosswalk, if clear of pedestrians during the flashing red phase (see below). Keep in mind, each vehicle must stop before proceeding through the crosswalk. You can view how the pedestrian hybrid beacon works in the following links:

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK) Video
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK) Pamphlet

PHB Flashing Red Sign

For more information regarding the pedestrian hybrid beacon system, visit:

Wisconsin DOT Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Webpage
Federal Highway Administration Safety Study

We’ve received some questions regarding the meaning of the flashing red for a pedestrian hybrid beacon compared to other flashing red signals. Below are the general rules under various situations where a motorist might be given a flashing red signal.

Please note in all examples below, the motorist stops, investigates the situation, and then proceeds with caution if safe to do so.

  • At a railroad signal without a gate: Each motorist must stop. If the motorist finds that no railroad train or track equipment is approaching, the motorist may proceed.
  • At an intersection: Each motorist must stop. The motorist may then proceed under the same rules as a STOP sign.
  • At a pedestrian hybrid beacon: Each motorist must stop. If the crosswalk is clear of pedestrians, the motorist may proceed.

In and around the Fox Valley, you may have noticed the new yellow flashing arrow signal. The purpose of the yellow flashing arrow is to give drivers making a left turn a more consistent and understandable message on who has the right-of-way. For more information, click here to visit the WisDOT page on yellow flashing arrows.

If you are experiencing a problem with one of the traffic signals in Neenah, you can contact the traffic engineer by email at or by phone at 920-886-6243.  If the problem is an emergency contact the Police Department at 920-886-6000.