- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

The best solution to a problem is often the simplest and most elegant one. Synchronizing traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic is just such a solution. It doesn't entail great cost or inconvenience. Yet it will, if carried through, noticeably reduce bottlenecks and lower fuel consumption and the output of harmful emissions.
Hundreds of area signals will be re-timed to go green, yellow and red in synchronization with one another, so that cars move forward evenly, instead of the herky-jerky stop-and-go that's currently the routine. "This is not a solution to all of our transportation problems, but it's something that's tangible and immediate," said Albert C. Eisenberg of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. Anyone who has endured the annoyance of having the traffic light just ahead turn red as soon as you pass through one that just turned green will surely second Mr. Eisenberg's opinion.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), a regional body composed of officials from Virginia, Maryland and the District, has been casting about for a way to reduce smog levels, which violate federal clean-air standards. If the problem is not addressed, it could hold up much-needed new-road construction and other infrastructure improvements. The D.C. region must meet revised federal air-quality standards by 2005 just a little more than two years from now.
Re-timing the traffic lights is just a small part of an estimated $38 million plan put forward by COG's Transportation Planning Board and signed Wednesday by regional officials. But it's a lot of bang for not much buck.


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