After congestion pricing in Midtown Manhattan was vetoed by the New York State Legislature, New York City's Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) turned to advanced traffic signal systems and adaptive decision support systems to better identify and alleviate points of congestion within the test bed in real-time. Phase 1 of the Midtown in Motion test bed stretched from 2nd to 6th Avenues and 42nd to 57th Streets in Manhattan, encompassing 110 blocks and was implemented beginning in July 2011. Phase 2 expands the east-west boundaries to 1st and 9th Avenues, bringing the total number of blocks in the test bed to 270.
Before the implementation of Phase 1, nearly half of the city's 12,500 signalized intersections had received upgrades from electromechanical controllers to networked Advanced Solid State Traffic Controllers (ASTCs). The remaining signals will be upgraded by the end of 2013. The ASTCs work over a wireless network. As part of the Phase 1 deployment, hardware including 100 microwave sensors, 32 video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections were installed within the test bed. Signals have a fixed pedestrian crossing time that does not require actuation to ensure that the primary travel mode (pedestrian) in NYC is given priority for safe crossings. Additionally, turn lanes were added to 53 intersections and turn signals were installed at 23 intersections.
Historic traffic data, as well as real-time conditions, influence the algorithms applied to solve current and developing traffic problems. All traffic issues detected by the sensor network are confirmed through video feed by staff before the recommended algorithm is applied to the signals.
Based on readings from both E-ZPass transponders in private vehicles and GPS transponders in city taxis serving as a sample for the Midtown traffic, NYC DOT saw an improvement of 10 percent in travel times in the test bed area for Phase 1. The NYC DOT expanded the size of the Midtown in Motion test bed by nearly double for Phase 2 implementation.
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