Traffic Relief

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

April 20, 2005

"I mean there's just too many cars. The lights seem to just change too fast and you can't get anywhere," said Fluvanna resident Wendell Worley.

Welcome to 5 p.m. on West Main Street in Charlottesville, also known as rush hour. This traffic is a daily struggle for commuters, during peek hours: 4:30-6:00 p.m.

"I try to avoid this part of town. I work over here, but other than that I don't come over here," said Worley.

But you may not have to avoid this area forever. The City of Charlottesville is taking steps to develop a Central Control Center. The organization will time and coordinate the lights with the help of cameras that will be positioned at the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and also at the other end of the signal corridor where West Main Street intersects Ridge Road.

"So we'll be able to communicate with each of these intersections and change the timings of these signals," said City Traffic Engineer Ken Keena.

It normally takes just a few minutes to drive these twelve blocks, but during rush hour it can take up to a half hour.

With the help of the new department and technology, city officials plan on seeing improvements, but don't know how much until they have more traffic counts.

"It is so bad right now, that the changes will be at least noticeable," said Keena.

This is only the first phase of the project, which the city hopes to complete within four months. The second phase of the project, which will begin soon, will focus on Emmett Street.

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