City Avenue congestion could be significantly reduced through a program that uses video surveillance of traffic volume to adjust stoplight patterns whenever necessary, Bala Cynwyd residents were told Tuesday night.
The City Avenue Special Services District is applying for a $1 million federal grant toward the project, said president and CEO Terry Foley at the Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd's monthly meeting. Lower Merion and Philadelphia have each committed $100,000 as a required match.
The goal is to reduce emissions as well as traffic, Foley said, which is why the district applied to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.
Seven SEPTA bus routes use the City Avenue corridor (including St. Asaph's Road), where there are 22 intersections with signals. Many end up congested enough that drivers have to wait through several cycles at a signal light, the worst being City Avenue's intersections with Presidential Boulevard, Monument Road, Bala Avenue and Old Lancaster Road, Foley said.
Video cameras at each intersection would gauge the relative backup in each direction and change the durations of green lights to clear unusual congestion. A similar program on Route 202 in King of Prussia recently reduced delays 25 to 40 percent in both directions, Foley said.
The top priority would be City Avenue's seven intersections from Presidential Boulevard through Conshohocken State Road, where installations would cost roughly $350,000. Second priority would be the five St. Asaph's intersections (about $300,000), then the 10 City Avenue intersections from Bala Avenue to Lancaster Avenue, which would cost about $600,000.
Officials don't know how much grant money to expect and won't hear until August, Foley said, but they will do as much of the work as possible, as soon as possible, aiming for a January 2013 start.
Lower Merion Commissioner Brian McGuire said township staff are "optimistic" about the prospects of winning a grant, but Foley added, "I'll assure you that if we don't get this grant, we're not going to drop the program."
The township eased City Avenue zoning restrictions April 30 in the hopes of attracting more development.