NYC hopes tech can help reduce traffic

Gridlock may not be synonymous with New York City for much longer.

According to a new plan proposed by Mayor Bloomberg dubbed “Midtown in Motion” (wishful thinking!), city officials hope to implement some high tech monitoring tools to identify and ease the city’s traffic congestion problems.

The plan is to place microwave sensors, traffic video cameras, and E-ZPass readers at 23 major intersections throughout Manhattan.

From within a control center, traffic engineers will monitor these hotspots for potential jams and (attempt to) fix them before it means bumper-to-bumper traffic and cabbies yelling out the window at rush hour.

“It will allow engineers to quickly identify congestion choke points as they occur and what’s most important, they’ll then be able to remotely alter traffic signal patterns to begin to clear up Midtown jams at the touch of a button,” Bloomberg said.

The advanced tech tools are slated to be installed within a 110-square block area between 2nd Avenue to Sixth Avenue and from 42nd to 57th street. The federal government is picking up $600,000 of the $1.6 million bill.

Of course, even Mayor Bloomberg can’t promise a completely uncongested New York City.

“I don’t want anybody to think that starting tomorrow morning, there will never be another traffic jam,” he emphasized.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan explained the importance of technology, “For far too long Midtown traffic was very much like the weather, you know, everybody commented on it but nobody seemed to be able to do anything about it,” Sadik-Khan said. “Our traffic engineers actually have the tools they need to identify a problem and to respond in real-time.”

If the program is a success in Midtown Manhattan, Bloomberg hopes to expand the traffic system to other high traffic areas in the five boroughs. He believes the plan can be fully executed by 2013, but for now, I’ll just be sticking to the subway.

(Via CBS)