Adaptive Traffic Signal Study Seeks To Improve North Shore Traffic Flow

Pittsburgh Stadium Authority board set to vote Thursday on study of system that cut travel delays over 40% in East Liberty

PITTSBURGH, PA (October 7, 2015) The board of the Stadium Authority of the City of Pittsburgh is set to vote Thursday on a traffic management study seeking to cut traffic times, vehicle stops and vehicle emissions in the North Shore and adjacent neighborhoods.

The board is contemplating an agreement with Rapid Flow Technologies to conduct a study of vehicle flows at 28 intersections to analyze if North Shore traffic can be improved by their Surtrac adaptive signal control technology. The technology, developed through Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 research initiative, cut vehicle wait times by 42%, travel times by 24% and vehicle emissions by 21% when initially deployed by the City at intersections through East Liberty.

Surtrac continuously optimizes traffic signals in real-time instead of the fixed signals common at most intersections. It senses shifting traffic conditions and adjusts signal timings on a second-by-second basis to respond to changes, whether they be from crowds entering or leaving large events, car breakdowns or accidents. Information is exchanged dynamically with neighboring intersections, so they work cooperatively to improve traffic flow.

“Pittsburgh was already a world leader in providing smart, commuter and pedestrian friendly traffic technology, and this project would only cement that reputation further,” Mayor William Peduto said. “The partnerships we have built with CMU and other Surtrac supporters are not only creating new technologies and jobs, but delivering real improvements to daily quality of life as well.”

The proposed study would use a computer-generated microsimulation model to analyze the current traffic flows at 28 intersections in and around the North Shore and compare them to the flows when using Surtrac adaptive signal control.

“The study will explore whether this technology can be used to make traffic more efficient for all facets of North Shore activity, both high volume events and everyday travel in the area,” said Mary Conturo, Executive Director of the Stadium Authority.

Rapid Flow Technologies LLC is a private firm founded by CMU researchers who developed Surtrac. The proposed $25,000 contract would be covered half by Stadium Authority operating funds and half by a contribution by Alco Parking, which manages North Shore parking facilities.

“Fusing traffic and parking with technology is an increasingly important trend,” Alco Parking President Merrill Stabile said. “I expect Rapid Flow Technologies and Surtrac to be extremely useful tools in accommodating the next phases of development on the North Shore.”

The contract is only for traffic modeling, not for construction. Should the Surtrac model be deemed successful, design and construction contracts would have to be awarded to build out the technology at the intersections, subject to public requests for proposals and public bids.

The Stadium Authority board meeting is at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow on the third floor of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.