PHOENIXVILLE - Motorists will eventually be able to get around the area quicker, when 20 area traffic signals will be linked together and synchronized sometime this year.
Jeff L'Amoreaux, P.E., P.T.O.E. and Vice President of Carroll Engineering Corporation, said that the typical length of time for a commute through the borough might be cut by 10 to 15 percent.
Twenty traffic signals, including 12 consecutive signals on Nutt Road between Country Club Road and Rapps Dam Road, four downtown signals on Bridge Street, three signals on Route 113 between Township Line Road and Rapps Dam Road, and one signal at Manavon and Starr Streets will all be linked by computers.
The Borough of Phoenixville, Schuylkill and East Pikeland townships will share the ongoing expense of running the system as well as the $200,000 cost of planning and design.
Under a federal grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the involved municipalities will assume 10 percent of the project's cost. The grant will pay for the entire $2 million construction cost of the project.
Megan Kline, E.I.T., of Carroll Engineering said that by linking the signals by computer, "the signals can talk to each other."
Boxes at the base of each signal will contain hardware and software and replace the former communitywide systems that were typically run by central computers in a location such as a city hall.
The system will have the capability to react to changing traffic patterns to coordinate a smoother flow of traffic. Separate patterns for morning rush, afternoon rush, mid-day and other periods of low traffic volume will determine the length of time that a signal stays green.
L'Amoreaux cited the importance of allowing traffic to flow during heavy traffic times.
"Once you have people going, you want to keep them going," said L'Amoreaux. If a signal changes too fast, motorists will encounter more repetitions and work against the system.
L'Amoreaux said that Carroll Engineering has a good working relationship with PennDOT, acting Borough Manager Don Edwards of Phoenixville, township administrators Mary Bird at Schuylkill Township and Kimberly Moretti at East Pikeland, and McMahon Associates.
Kline and Edwards both said that the project will help downtown businesses.
"When motorists can easily get to and from your business district, they're more likely to come," said Kline.
"With three major state roads running through Phoenixville, it would make the borough more convenient and attractive for people from the outside to get into and go through," said Edwards.
L'Amoreaux noted two reasons that a new closed loop traffic signal makes sense.
"Equipment needs to be replaced every 20 to 25 years and this affords the area a perfect opportunity to do that," said L'Amoreaux.
In the last 20 years technology has gotten so much better and by replacing the old system, traffic will get much more efficient, according to L'Amoreaux.