Changing midtown signals in LIC

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From a small room in a Long Island City government building, city Department of Transportation workers will now be able to change traffic lights in midtown Manhattan and ease congestion in one of the most headache-inducing rush hour spots in the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

At a news conference at 28-11 Queens Plaza North, home to the DOT and its traffic management center, Bloomberg announced “Midtown in Motion,” a real-time traffic management system aimed at reducing congestion across the East River.

“This system is about to take a quantum leap forward,” Bloomberg said.

The new system, the technology for which cost $1 million in city and $600,000 in Federal Highway Administration funds, utilizes 100 microwave sensors, 32 traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers. These new traffic trackers, installed at 23 intersections beginning last summer and officially turned on by the mayor Monday, feed information from the trackers back to the Queens Plaza center.

“The combined flow of this data will be transmitted to this center wirelessly,” Bloomberg said.

From there DOT engineers can use the data and change the lights to make traffic flow more properly in the event of congestion, an accident or other problems. If this program is successful in midtown, it may be used in other high-traffic areas.

“Keeping traffic moving is essential to keeping our economy moving,” Bloomberg said.

The traffic information will not only be for DOT engineers. It will also be made available to motorists and developers of applications for personal digital assistances and smartphones.

Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the DOT, said the department’s traffic management center has been upgraded for increased bandwidth capacity and had additional new installations for Midtown in Motion.

She also said the new system was fixing a problem that many have commented on but nobody has done anything about it. The department has invested $296 million in traffic controlling measures citywide, she said.

“High technology control rooms like this are not just limited to Hollywood,” Sadik-Khan said, referring to the center at 28-11 Queens Plaza North.

Victor Mendez, administrator for the FHA, praised the Midtown in Motion program as a way to “win the future.”

“Innovative systems like this one help keep America moving,” Mendez said in a statement.

Carole Post, commissioner for the city Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, also praised Midtown in Motion, which is made possible through her department’s New York City Wireless Network.

“The need for using technology to solve problems is paramount,” Post said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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