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Multi-city traffic control on Bell Road moves ahead
Lily Leung
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 18, 2008 06:12 AM

County transportation officials and Surprise traffic engineers unfurled the next phase of a multi-city Intelligent Transportation System at a public meeting Wednesday, generating mostly positive reactions from residents.

Also known as ITS, the real-time traffic monitoring system was designed to decrease travel time, enhance safety and improve mobility on roads affecting Surprise, Peoria and the county through a partnership, officials said.

Phase 1 work, which includes improvements from Loop 101 to Grand Avenue, is wrapping up, and soon the county will deploy Phase 2, which will involve improvements from Loop 303 to Grand Avenue, said Carl Jager, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Department of Transportation.

Phase 2 also includes changes along a stretch of Bell Road in Surprise, the busiest surface street in the state.

By summer, the major arterial will see three more signals connected to the ITS, allowing traffic engineers to program and adjust traffic signals to maintain smooth traffic flow.

Also by the end of June, three Bell Road intersections - Coyote Lakes, Dysart and 134th Avenue - will be camera-ready. Cameras can focus up to a mile down the Bell Road corridor and can swivel 360 degrees, allowing for good coverage of traffic conditions.

A Traffic Management Center at the Surprise Public Safety Facility also will be completed by summer's end.

"It's nice to know that these cities are working together to try to improve the situation," said Jan Goldsmith, a winter visitor from the New York City area.

Goldsmith said driving in Surprise is always pleasant compared to his commute in New York - a 26-mile drive that took up to three hours at times.

More digital message systems, which warn drivers of construction or accidents ahead, also will be on the way.

Using nationwide figures, county traffic officials said 85 percent of motorists take alternate routes when they see warnings of obstructions ahead.

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