$2 million project could signal better Route 22 traffic flow

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Local and state officials are hoping a $2 million shot will help Route 22 traffic flow better.

PennDOT officials last month named Route 22 part of its Congested Corridor Program and agreed to invest $2 million into fixing and synchronizing traffic signals along about 10 miles of the highway stretching from Monroeville to Delmont.

The money will replace the signal-detection system and equipment at 19 intersections beginning at the Route 376 interchange in Monroeville. An adaptive signal system that uses radar technology will be designed to keep traffic flowing steadily to Cloverleaf Drive in Delmont.

About 22,000 motorists travel Route 22 each day, according to PennDOT records. But those cars aren't moved through the corridor the same way at each intersection, PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said.

“There's all different kinds of technology integrated into that corridor,” Petersen said. “And this corridor is one of the busiest for congestion.”

Under the Congested Corridor project, radar sensors that detect vehicles will be installed at 19 intersections. But the sensors won't just take note of a car; instead, they will determine the optimal timing for the signal based on traffic flow, speed and number of vehicles driving toward the intersection.

It's a sort of “smart” technology, Murrysville Councilman Jeff Kepler said.

“I like the fact that it's not only going to be a smart system within Murrysville, but synced up from the turnpike to Route 66,” Kepler said. “It's pretty clear the timing is not optimized right now; this will get the flow through 22 as optimized as possible. That entire corridor is going to be synced up. It's going to be great.”

It's a far cry from what is in place now. In Murrysville, signals are controlled by traffic-detection cameras, and the signals change based on one of several preprogrammed scenarios.

Murrysville officials spent about $37,000 on traffic studies to fix problems with nine traffic signals between Trafford Road and Triangle Lane. An October 2012 study found that there are technical problems at several of the intersections that knock the lights out of sync.

Murrysville officials began seeking a solution for the congestion in 2012, after two councilmen watched several motorists run the red light at Triangle Lane after waiting for five to 10 minutes for the light to change.

“Something had to be done with it,” said Kepler, who takes Route 22 to work each day. “What this will avoid is excessive sitting in line when there is not traffic.”

A time frame for the work has not been determined, said Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison, but local officials will meet with state officials during the next several weeks to kick off the project.

“It's on the fast track,” Morrison said. “It's been on the slow track for so many years now.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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