Technology may soon help ease congestion on the Schuylkill Expressway

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway has been brutal for decades. But a Temple University researcher says technology could help ease congestion, and PennDOT is already working on it.

Researchers in the Temple Fox School of Business say using intelligent transportation systems, like the 511 system, can keep traffic moving and be a better way to spend dwindling transportation dollars. 

“Governments are going to have less money, smaller budgets, to build highways or other roads,” said Min-Seok Pang, an associate professor in the Fox Management Information Systems program.

His research shows when an accident occurs a few miles ahead, using electronic, variable speed limit signs to reduce speeds helps to even out traffic and prevent traffic jams. 

The Temple research used I-66 in Northern Virginia as an example. 

PennDOT's Brad Rudolph says the department looked at that traffic system while preparing for changes on the Schuylkill Expressway.

“The first thing that people are gonna see this summer are the variable speed limits and queue detection warning signs,” Rudolph said. 

The queue detection warning signs are the electronic signs that alert drivers about problems ahead. 

Rudolph says a pilot program is expected to be ready by late July or early August on I-76 in parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. 

Research shows warning signs reduce rear end crashes by 30%. 

Other options planned for the future include flexible lanes, which operate only during rush hours, and synchronizing lights leading onto highway ramps.