Franklin County to get traffic-signal study

Synchronized signals would reduce idling traffic and cut back on vehicle emissions

September 01, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin County, Pa., government leaders are considering how to synchronize traffic signals in an effort to improve the flow of traffic.

Franklin County's rural planning organization, which is developing a long-range transportation plan, is taking a look at the county's 115 traffic signals. Currently, they are on 12 systems with different types of controllers that don't necessarily communicate with each other.

"There are five systems alone on U.S. 30," said Phil Tarquino, the county's planning director.

With the proper technology, a driver traveling the speed limit should encounter a series of green lights on a road through town after passing through the first one, according to Robert Thomas, chairman of the rural planning organization.

Thomas, who is a Franklin County commissioner, said the 11 voting members of the rural planning organization heard many comments in recent years about drivers hitting stop signal after stop signal on roads.

A reduction in idling from traffic would cut back on vehicle emissions that are harmful to the environment, Thomas said.

Because of that, the county is using funding it receives to address traffic congestion and air quality to pay for a traffic-signal synchronization study. Tarquino and Thomas said they are not yet sure who will do the study and how detailed it will be.

There isn't enough money to widen many roads, so it's important to make the most of the system already in place, Thomas said.

"This is all to make Franklin County a happier place to drive, a safer place to drive," he said.

It is also important to have a better understanding of the system when guiding government agencies or developers who are required to install traffic lights, Tarquino said. That includes two lights planned for ramps at Exit 17 (Walker Road) of Interstate 81, he said.

According to Tarquino, technology for traffic signals has improved greatly in the last five to 10 years. Some use radio waves for their control devices.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issues permits for traffic lights that are later owned and maintained by municipalities, Tarquino said.

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