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Pittsburgh's North Shore traffic gets critical look

Tom Fontaine
| Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, 10:45 p.m.
Rapid Flow Technologies LLC, which has helped reduce traffic delays in the busy East End neighborhood, is being recruited to do the same on the North Shore, where major sporting events and concerts routinely tie up traffic.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Rapid Flow Technologies LLC, which has helped reduce traffic delays in the busy East End neighborhood, is being recruited to do the same on the North Shore, where major sporting events and concerts routinely tie up traffic.

An East Liberty company that helped reduce traffic delays in that busy East End neighborhood is being recruited to do the same on the North Shore, where major sporting events and concerts routinely tie up traffic.

“It's not possible to remove congestion after a major event. But we can make that period of clearing out go more smoothly and, at the same time, make it possible for pedestrians to move around safely,” said Greg Barlow, chief technology officer for Rapid Flow Technologies LLC.

Rapid Flow, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff, developed Surtrac adaptive traffic signals. They adjust to changing traffic patterns and work in concert with other signals in the area, improving the flow of traffic.

The company, which has five employees, has installed the technology at nearly 50 signals in East Liberty. Since the first ones were installed in the heart of East Liberty in 2012, traffic studies showed that vehicle wait times dropped by 42 percent, travel times by 24 percent and vehicle emissions by 21 percent, according to Mayor Bill Peduto's office.

Pittsburgh's Stadium Authority is scheduled to vote Thursday to hire Rapid Flow to study traffic at 28 intersections in and around the North Shore, from as far west as the West End Bridge to as far east as East Ohio Street at Chestnut Street. The authority would use the data gathered to decide whether to install the technology at any of the intersections, Barlow said.

The authority would pay $12,500, while Alco Parking, which owns or manages most parking spaces in the North Shore, would chip in another $12,500.

“The study will explore whether this technology can be used to make traffic more efficient for all facets of North Shore activity, both high-volume events and everyday travel in the area,” said Stadium Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo.

Rapid Flow has performed similar studies in Downtown and along Route 51 in the South Hills, and is performing one in Vermont's Chittenden County, where Burlington — the state's largest city — is located.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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