Press Releases

Press Release #12-25

Seth Solomonow/Nicholas Mosquera: (212) 839-4850

NYC DOT Announces Expansion of Midtown Congestion Management System, Receives National Transportation Award

First phase of Midtown in Motion has resulted in an overall 10% improvement in travel speeds, wins transportation technology award from ITS America

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced the expansion of Midtown in Motion, the congestion management system implemented last year to improve traffic conditions in Midtown by enabling city traffic engineers to identify and respond to traffic conditions in real time. The service area will more than double in size to include Midtown from 1st to 9th avenues and from 42nd to 57th streets. Installed in July 2011, the first phase of the program included 100 microwave sensors, 32 traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections to measure traffic speeds. Over the course of the year, engineers in DOT’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) used the technology to quickly identify congestion issues as they occurred and use networked Advanced Solid State Traffic Controllers (ATSC) to remotely adjust Midtown traffic signal patterns, unplug bottlenecks and smooth the flow of traffic. Preliminary results of the first phase showed an overall 10% improvement in travel times on the avenues in the 110-block service area, as measured by E-ZPass readers, and taxi GPS data showed similar results. The expanded service area, covering more than 270 square blocks, will include an additional 110 microwave sensors, 24 traffic video cameras, and 36 E-ZPass readers, and will be fully operational this September, allowing engineers to respond to congestion throughout the heart of Midtown. Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) president Scott Belcher also awarded Commissioner Sadik-Khan a Smart Solution Spotlight award for using innovative technology to reduce congestion and minimize pollution.

“When Midtown moves, New York City moves,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “While every New Yorker talks about beating the traffic, by extending Midtown in Motion and speeding our reaction times to trouble spots, we’ve taken decisive steps towards managing it more effectively. We also welcome this Smart Solution Spotlight award for shining a light on our non-stop efforts to keep New Yorkers moving.”

“From cameras to microwave sensors and EZ-pass readers to Advanced Solid State Traffic Controllers, Midtown in Motion is a showcase of the most sophisticated intelligent transportation solutions available to public agencies,” said Scott Belcher, President and CEO of ITS America.  “ITS America is excited to recognize this comprehensive use of technology and real time data which has resulted in a highly successful deployment that can be replicated in cities throughout the country.”

“Innovative systems like ‘Midtown in Motion’ help keep America moving," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "This technology improves safety and reduces traffic congestion for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, which makes a big difference as they go about their day to day activities.”

The cost of this Midtown in Motion expansion is $2.9 million, with $580,000 of that contributed by the City, and the remainder by New York State. A further $2 million is being invested in 200 new ASTCs, $1.6 million of that from the Federal Highway Administration and the remainder from the City. All Midtown in Motion data is transmitted wirelessly to the TMC in Long Island City, where engineers can immediately identify congestion issues and adjust the latest generation of networked traffic signals. Midtown in Motion, the TMC, and ASTCs are just some of the results of the nearly $300 million DOT has invested in traffic management tools and advanced technology across the city, an important part of the more than $4.9 billion dedicated to more than 800 capital projects and state of good repair initiatives over the last five years.

The 200 new ATSCs to be installed in conjunction with this Midtown in Motion expansion bring the citywide total to nearly 9,000. These new signals can be adjusted to more evenly distribute traffic flow, helping to clear congested areas, or allowing engineers to clear isolated backups caused by collisions or double-parked vehicles. On avenues, the ATSCs also allow engineers adjust signal timing plans, giving them the ability to choose a simultaneous signal progression, where all signals change concurrently, or a traffic signal progression, with which drivers travelling a constant speed encounter green lights as they move along a corridor. In addition to the role these controllers play in Midtown in Motion, this state-of-the-art equipment is also more weather-resistant and tamperproof, and requires less maintenance than previous generations, which could only be adjusted based on time of day, leaving no ability to respond to crashes, construction, or special events. DOT is nearing its goal of having all 12,500 signalized intersections converted to this advanced technology by the end of 2013.

The real-time Midtown in Motion traffic information is available on DOT’s website, on smartphones and tablets and is also accessible to app developers in New York’s burgeoning technology industry. All of this data transmission is made possible by the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), developed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. NYCWiN provides real-time access to voice, video, and data communications throughout the five boroughs for agency and emergency use. This innovative application of technology in the reduction of greenhouses gas emissions and air pollution is one of the top priorities of PlaNYC.

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