CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — We have smartphones, smart cars, even smart houses, so why not smart traffic signals?
After a year of working out the bugs on one local highway, the intelligent traffic systems are about to branch out.
On Freedom Road from the Industrial Park heading for Route 19, you don’t have to be a traffic engineer to see the problem. In fact, the joke here is “we’re 30 second away from gridlock all the time,” Duane McKee, assistant Cranberry Township manager, said.
So after a major re-timing program of all the lights in Cranberry this fall, they’re going to launch a smart, or adaptive, traffic system on Freedom Road.
“[It will] include new and better software, the latest and greatest detection devices, timers, all that stuff,” McKee said.
In fact, many of the six intersections on Freedom Road already have the cameras and radar systems needed to detect in real time who’s waiting where “and try to adjust within that intersection, as well as coordinate with the rest of the corridor,” McKee explained.
With 100,000 vehicles a day using this intersection alone, a lot of adjusting is needed. It’s the same system that went operational in the Wexford Flats a year ago.
“It’s working the way it’s supposed to,” PennDOT District 11 Traffic Engineer Todd Kravits said.
Cranberry is watching Wexford closely, and Kravits cautions results are not instantaneous.
“People need to be patient with it as it begins to learn,” he said. “The system is just like you and I. It takes in knowledge and reacts to it.”
Even after the system learns patterns so it can do some anticipating, it still adjusts almost minute by minute.
“After we get through that initial learning stage, the system pretty much operates on its own,” Kravits said.
PennDOT likes the system so well, it’s about to install it along Route 22 from Monroeville to Delmont, the Business District of McKnight Road in Ross, and it’s considering other busy areas.
Cranberry would like to have the adaptive system up and running on Freedom Road by Christmas, and if it works out, eventually expand to the entire Cranberry traffic light system as money allows.