The city unveiled a new program Monday to ease traffic congestion in Midtown, and federal transportation officials say it's the most comprehensive use of new technology in the nation. NY1’s Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said traffic tie-ups cost businesses billions of dollars. They have to use extra gas and simply lose time, which slows down productivity.
To help fix the problem, Bloomberg unveiled “Midtown in Motion” Monday, a new traffic management system designed to ease congestion.
"It is something that will make you get around a little bit better," said Bloomberg.
It starts on the street with 100 motion sensors that track traffic, 23 E-Z Pass readers that anonymously monitor movement and 32 traffic video cameras.
All of that information gets fed wirelessly to the city's traffic management center in Long Island City. From there, engineers change traffic signals accordingly at the touch of a button.
"I don't want anybody to think that starting tomorrow morning there will never be another traffic jam between second and sixth or 42nd through 57th, that's not the real world, but we can make it better and that's what you try to do and there will be some days where it works better than others," said Bloomberg.
The pilot program stretches from 2nd Avenue to 6th Avenue and from 42nd street to 57th street: 110 square blocks in total at a cost of $1.6 million.
Experts who have criticized the mayor for installing pedestrian plazas said the idea looks good.
"For the price of one pedestrian mall, which creates congestion, we're putting all devices to work to ease congestion and improve pollution,” said Robert Sinclar, Jr., of AAA New York. “It's really a fantastic idea.”
Drivers are a little more skeptical of a plan that hands more control over their lives to the people at the controls of traffic.
"It's not good," said Abu Mussa, a taxi driver of 18 years.
The city will assess the program’s success by next year.