New traffic signal technology is coming to the city’s Baum-Centre corridor that extends Pittsburgh’s leadership in commuter, pedestrian and environmentally friendly traffic research, Mayor William Peduto announced today.

The city is extending its cutting-edge system of real-time traffic signals that adapt instantly to shifting traffic conditions. A new $1.8 million pilot project will further test and strengthen the Pittsburgh system, providing first-of-its-kind smart traffic technology from the city’s eastern edge to nearly Downtown.

An existing UTC traffic signal project at 18 intersections in East Liberty and Shadyside has cut vehicle wait times by 42%, travel times by 24% and vehicle emissions by 21%. The project will soon be expanded to another 23 intersections along Baum Boulevard and Centre Avenue going west to Craig Street.

Prior adaptive signal technologies typically focused on straight-ahead traffic flows common to suburban areas. Surtrac dynamically senses the constantly shifting crossflows of traffic that dominate urban areas, and adjusts green lights on a second by second basis to adjust to changes, whether from car breakdowns or accidents, or bursts in traffic from special events or street closures.

It is totally decentralized. Each intersection manages its own local traffic and neighboring intersections communicate their plans to each other achieve coordinated behavior.

Soon the system will extend from the city limits at Penn and Braddock avenues in Point Breeze through Larimer,  East Liberty, Friendship, Bloomfield, Shadyside, and Oakland to Baum Blvd at Craig Street and Bigelow Boulevard, the start of a main entryway to Downtown.

“Pittsburgh uses its quirks — in this case a tight urban street grid packed with pedestrians, bikes and commuters — to make itself great. We don’t have the resources to widen roads or buy up properties to solve our traffic issues — we use brainpower to create efficiency instead,” Mayor Peduto said.

“What also makes Pittsburgh special is the way government works alongside university and private partners to make splashes, such as with this project, that get noticed on the world stage. This is a proud moment for CMU and our city.”

“The Baum-Centre corridor serves as a critical gateway to Oakland, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Friendship, and East Liberty. This project will not only improve traffic between these neighborhoods, but will also improve the health of residents and visitors by reducing vehicle emissions by over 20%,” Councilman Gilman said.

“This project will make the lives of District 7 residents and commuters safer and more efficient, and is yet another example of District 7 serving as one of our city’s centers of innovation and exploration,” said Councilwoman Gross. “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome these traffic infrastructure improvements to the Baum-Center corridor and District 7, and hope that this project will serve as a helpful research blueprint for these improvements be made citywide in the future.”

The UTC is working next on efforts to optimize pedestrian and transit traffic flow: more walkers and greater use of buses and other transit options will make cuts to vehicle traffic and emissions even greater.

“This is smart technology that makes the whole traffic system work better and improves air quality, and now allows us to turn our attention to the next steps,” Biehler said.

The project is underwritten by UPMC, the Hillman Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the R.K. Mellon Foundation, as well as the city, U.S. Department of Transportation and PennDOT. The foundations are funding $1,298,000 of the work and government bodies $512,000.


Mayor William Peduto Lauds City’s Cutting Edge Leadership on Real-time Traffic Signal Program