- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Sometimes, it doesnt take millions of dollars or require elaborate effort to improve the quality of life for area residents. The proposal to synchronize the regions traffic lights is a perfect example of this.
Anyone who drives the highways and by-ways of the Washington area knows how aggravating it is to be stuck in seemingly endless gridlock gridlock made all the worse by traffic lights, often just a few dozen yards apart, that arent properly synchronized. One will be red while the other is green with the result being more wasted time, more stressed-out drivers.
Modern technology and a little initiative, however, may make it possible to remedy this problem at least somewhat. According to a report in this newspaper by reporters Ellen Sorokin and Stephen Dinan, Virginia, Maryland and Washington officials are working together to implement a region-wide synchronization program that would potentially shave significant amounts of time off the average commute perhaps as much as 10 minutes or more. This would be accomplished by the simple expedient of making all the timing clocks that govern traffic signals in the area operate on the same schedule. No more red light-green light stop-and-go plodding. Instead, cars would be able to smoothly move and move at higher average speeds, too. According to reporters Sorokin and Dinan, the regions ill-timed signals have helped reduce average speeds on even major highways and secondary roads typically posted at 55 mph to a slug-like 25 mph by 8 a.m. rush hour.
The first "leg"of the synchronization effort will go into effect along Route 355/Wisconsin Avenue in Maryland and Washington, one of the regions trouble spots. Similar work with the same goal in mind is being done in outlying Northern Virginia areas in addition to adjusting the red/green interval to match the reality of conditions on the roads at given times of the day. Given the increasingly terrible traffic facing area motorists, any relief is definitely welcome news.


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