Dubbed "Midtown in Motion," the $1.6 million system relies on more than 100 motion detectors, dozens of cameras and data gathered from drivers' E-ZPasses to compile immediate info on the most congested streets in the city.That's not a particularly expensive project if it can reduce traffic and congestion in Midtown. If successful, DOT is likely to expand that to other parts of the City.
That info is beamed wirelessly back to the windowless control room in Long Island City to the traffic engineers.
Not only will the DOT engineers get immediate notification of traffic backups -- caused by anything from a single car crash to a meeting of the UN General Assembly -- they'll also be able to do something about it.
Armed with pocket protectors and algorithms on city traffic patterns, the engineers will analyze the info and decide whether to speed up or slow down the street's signal changes.
Previously, the signal lights in the city could be wired only to change themselves at certain times of the day -- like for rush hour -- and weren't able to be switched remotely.
The all-seeing DOT engineers can also decide to deploy traffic agents from their command center if the congestion gets particularly thorny.
My concern is over the EZPass sensors.
Reducing traffic by adjusting traffic lights is one thing, but installing a system that puts in place the critical infrastructure necessary to toll riders into Midtown Manhattan should worry those who do that drive on a daily basis. This pilot project could conceivably set the congestion pricing tax back in motion.