The city and Carnegie Mellon University are expanding a network of high-tech traffic signals that monitor flow and instantly react, changing their timing to move vehicles through intersections more efficiently.
The expansion, to be done by early next year, will add the signals to several intersections along Baum Boulevard and Centre Avenue, stretching from East Liberty to Oakland.
When the work is done, the system will extend from Penn and Braddock avenues in Point Breeze through Larimer, East Liberty, Friendship, Bloomfield, Shadyside and Oakland, with 49 intersections equipped with the smarter signals.
The signals use cameras or radar to monitor traffic and are able to communicate with one another to minimize wait time for drivers. Deployment of 18 such signals in East Liberty is credited with reducing wait times by 42 percent and travel time by 24 percent, officials said.
“Imagine if traffic signals had the ability to see the traffic that was there. Then imagine the traffic signals had the ability to talk to each other, second by second,” Mayor Bill Peduto said at a news conference. “It’s not something from George Jetson. It’s something that’s happening right here in Pittsburgh today.”
The pilot project that upgraded the East Liberty signals “produced some really surprising results,” said Allen Biehler, executive director of the University Transportation Center at CMU. “You’ve got to kind of pinch yourself and say, ‘Is this for real?’ ”
UPMC, the Hillman Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and R.K. Mellon Foundation are paying about $1.3 million of the $1.8 million project cost, with federal, state and city money covering the rest.