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Route 22 traffic signals get glowing early returns

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Traffic on U.S. Route 22 in Murrysville is seen Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, looking to the east near the Allegheny-Westmoreland county border.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Traffic on U.S. Route 22 in Murrysville is seen Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, looking to the east near the Allegheny-Westmoreland county border.
Traffic on U.S. Route 22 in Murrysville is seen, looking to the east near the Allegheny-Westmoreland county border.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Traffic on U.S. Route 22 in Murrysville is seen, looking to the east near the Allegheny-Westmoreland county border.

It has been nearly two months since traffic lights at 18 intersections along Route 22 between Murrysville and Monroeville were fitted with a radar detection system to keep traffic moving without heavy backups.

Statistics from a study done by the company that installed the system shows it is doing what it is supposed to do:

• A 20 percent reduction in westbound traffic delays during the morning rush hours.

• A 34 percent reduction in eastbound traffic delays during the afternoon rush hours.

• An overall 13 percent reduction in delays over the course of an average day.

The study compared traffic for two weeks before and after the InSync system was put in place in mid-February by the Kansas company, Rhythm Engineering.

“It's great news for the beginning, and we're going to continue monitoring it,” PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said. “If this works in this area, we're going to use it in a lot of other different places in the state.”

PennDOT plans to hire an independent consultant for future studies of traffic flow on the road, she said. But for those whose only expertise is driving on Route 22, the system is getting mixed reviews in its early stages.

“I think it has helped,” said Debbie McClure, who travels from her home in New Florence to work at Rose Bud Floral in southwest Murrysville each day.

Jeff Moore, an employee at the Goodwill store off Route 22 in Murrysville, drives back and forth between Monroeville and Greensburg two or three times per week.

“It's a lot quicker,” he said. “It probably shaves five or 10 minutes off my time,” he said.

Kathy Gerber of Murrysville had a different view.

“It makes no sense at all,” she said. “I drive 22 and the side streets daily and nothing is improved.”

Petersen said state officials have been pleased overall with the responses they've gotten about the system.

“Our project manager had some really good feedback coming in,” Petersen said. “We've had a few people who've been very happy with it.”

The system coordinates traffic lights to service turn lanes and side streets based on demand rather than changing from green to red at regular intervals. It has 53 radar detectors to monitor traffic flow and change signals when warranted.

The project was funded by a $1.8 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration. It includes traffic signals along 10 miles of Route 22, from near the Pennsylvania Turnpike ramp in Monroeville to Mellon Road in Murrysville.

Randy Cupps of Delmont said he has noticed longer red lights if a driver is entering the highway from a side street.

“Too much wait time,” Cupps said.

But Petersen said the system was designed to keep traffic on Route 22 moving more briskly.

“Even if you're waiting on a side street, once you get onto the main line, you're going to make up that time and move through faster,” she said.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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