CMU, North Huntingdon to join in Route 30 study to improve mobility |
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Joe Napsha

What can be done to improve traffic flow while ensuring safety through North Huntingdon’s main east-to-west thoroughfare — Route 30?

As PennDOT plots major safety improvements for the corridor from Irwin to North Versailles, North Huntingdon joins forces with two Carnegie Mellon University research institutes to determine innovative ways to improve mobility on a highway that is more than a century old.

“We want to look at the broader issue of mobility,” North Huntingdon Assistant Manager Michael Turley said.

Turley’s challenge to CMU was to find a solution to alleviate congestion, while ensuring safety and anticipating travel demands, said Lisa Schweyer, program manager for Traffic 21, one of the CMU groups that will study the problem.

That yearlong investigation, set to begin in July, will focus on a section of the four-lane highway that carries an estimated 28,000 vehicles a day. That stretch has clusters of small businesses, restaurants, shopping centers, auto dealerships and numerous traffic lights and side streets.

CMU’s Mobility Analytics Center team, consisting of faculty and doctoral candidates, will use the mobility problems Turley has outlined to provide data, analytics and recommend solutions, the university said.

Turley said the study will consider both short-term and long-term effects. Potential solutions could be in improving public transit, encouraging off-peak travel and even flexible work schedules to reduce the flow of traffic, Turley said. The study may look at where future growth should be located, he added.

“We don’t have any of the answers right now,” Turley said. “All we have is a problem and someone willing to look at it.”

The mobility challenges presented by North Huntingdon and the Airport Corridor Transportation Association were selected by Traffic 21 and Mobility 21 based on the availability of data to answer their problems. The challenges had to match the strengths of CMU’s Mobility Analytics Center team. The Hillman Family Foundation and the National University Transportation Center at CMU are funding the $80,000 study.

“Smart transportation is not just for Smart Cities,” said Stan Caldwell, executive director of Traffic 21 and Mobility 21.

Greensburg was one of the original six municipalities in the region that were selected last year for a study that focused on pedestrian access around the Westmoreland County Courthouse, Caldwell said.

The solutions resulting from these studies can provide other cities with ideas on how to apply large amounts of data to address their own transportation problems, said Jonathan Cagan, interim dean at CMU’s engineering college.

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