PennDOT addresses Camp Hill congestion with adaptive traffic lights

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – They’re called adaptive traffic signals, and they’re changing the way Pennsylvania communities deal with congestion.

But just how much they’ll help in the latest location they’ve been installed is up for debate.

PennDOT hopes the new technology, which went live Tuesday, will break up some of the congestion through Camp Hill, and neighbors in the area hope it starts a domino effect.

“It’s a bad situation,” said Pamela Williams, who lives in a development off of the Camp Hill Bypass.

It may look like a normal neighborhood, but Williams says at times it feels more like a highway.

“It’s a very aggressive situation,” she said. “They don’t stop; they don’t have any consideration.”

At rush hour, she says, drivers cut through the suburban streets right by her house to avoid back-ups on Route 15, speeding past, ignoring stop signs.

“It’s frustrating,” she said. “Something you don’t expect in a neighborhood, a small neighborhood.”

“You’re always going to have somebody who’s going to be trying to cut through. There’s no way to actually stop that,” said PennDOT spokesperson Fritzi Schreffler.

But the agency thinks they can help, at least a little.

The new adaptive traffic signals are in use from Country Club Road down to the Route 581 interchange on the Camp Hill Bypass, along with a couple places on Market Street in Camp Hill.

Traditional lights are on timers; these ones keep an eye on traffic volume, so if there are a lot of cars going one way, their light will stay green.

“It will keep traffic flowing longer,” Schreffler said. “You won’t be sitting at a series of signals coming down the bypass.”

Unfortunately, Schreffler said it probably won’t make a big difference during rush hour; there are just too many cars. The real solution to congestion, she said, is building more lanes, which simply isn’t feasible through that section of Camp Hill.

Some drivers on less-traveled side roads may see more inconvenience with the new system.

“If there’s a large influx coming from one direction and there’s only one car the other direction,” Schreffler said, “that car might actually sit for an extra cycle to allow the majority of the traffic to flow.”

But she said the system has been successful elsewhere in the state.

Williams hopes it at least keeps a few more people on the bypass.

“Let’s hope that it works,” she said. “Who wants to live with all that kind of traffic, you know?”

Schreffler said engineers will be on scene for at least a week to monitor and make any adjustments.

Over the course of the next month PennDOT plans to install more of the adaptive systems, changing a total of 53 intersections in Dauphin and Cumberland counties.

The project, which is entirely federally funded, clocks in at $3.6 million.

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