Transportation
6:27 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

PennDOT Halts Plans to Turn to Ramp Metering for Parkway East - Will Re-evaluate Plans for Easing

PennDOT has scrapped a plan to put traffic signals on the ramps leading to the Parkway East.  The goal was to improve flow but drivers were worried it would do the opposite.

A transportation study done by the University of Pittsburgh recommended a combination of ramp closures and so-called ramp-metering-- a method in which signals or other devices that gauge when a vehicle can best enter the highway are placed at ramp entrances. But, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the outcry over that plan was loud.

“What happened, unfortunately, is a lot of information, or misinformation, gets out about ramp metering, people get concerned about access to the highway, and a lot of negative energy was generated around the project,” said Dan Cessna, head of PennDOT Engineering District 11.

Ramp metering is used in cities throughout the US and around the world. The method would have shaved roughly five minutes from the Parkway East commute. $5 million was set aside by PennDOT for the work, Cessna said that money will be invested in transportation network improvements, but it’s not yet clear exactly what that means at this point. He said the agency will now evaluate how to move forward.

“We still intend to pursue a project that would do many of things we anticipated, like evaluating the entire transportation network, looking at options to improve that network, working with communities to understand what their transportation needs are, that was all components of the original project,” said Cessna.

The Parkway East is one of the most congested roadways in Pennsylvania and the nation, so Cessna added, officials will continue to explore the Parkway and roads leading to it, in n effort to find ways to reduce delays, make travel more efficient and safer.