Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Traffic Changes Yield Savings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Traffic Changes Yield Savings

Article excerpt

A highly technical, intensively detailed study of Cranberry's traffic signal system in its commercial center has yielded a take- away message that's as elementary in its simplicity as it dramatic: "Spending money on maintaining the traffic signal system is recouped many times over," summed Cranberry Assistant Manager Duane McKee.

The findings of a year-plus study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University were presented to township staff and elected officials recently, confirming what Mr. McKee and others sensed from the get-go.

Traffic synchronization -- coordinating signals such that traffic flows through the road system at the best pace possible -- saves time and money.

In partnership with the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission, the township spent $160,000 in 2011 to retime 44 traffic signals along Routes 19 and 228 from Adams Ridge to the east, Powell Road to the west, North Boundary Road to the north and Thorn Hill Road in Marshall to the south.

Traffic data and nationally accepted models for transportation flow were combined to yield what officials deemed to be the ideal timing scenario.

Then came the research team from CMU.

Looking at environmental impacts, fuel costs, lost time, and other components associated with traffic flow, the researchers determined that the tweaks to the system saved the township some $2 million in direct and indirect costs.

"There's a lot of fancy models they run the data through but, in the end, they've determined that the community and the driver is saving money when the traffic signal timing is working the way it should," Mr. McKee said.

There were other benefits that weren't as easily quantifiable: less aggravation and aggressive driving, among them.

The CMU study solidified a decision by the township to enhance national recommendations that traffic signals be retimed and resynchronized every five years. …

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