By Karen Cimino Wilson
Concord has asked the Federal Highway Administration for $6.8 million to build a traffic management center that will help improve the flow of traffic on several roads throughout the area.
The center would provide Concord with a system of cameras and fiber optics throughout the city to help mitigate traffic congestion from accidents, events like NASCAR races and rush-hour congestion. The equipment would likely be installed along busy thoroughfares including N.C. 49, U.S. 29, Bruton Smith and Concord Mills boulevards, N.C. 3, U.S. 601 and Church Street, which is part of N.C. 73.
“Those are your major corridors,” said Joe Wilson, director of streets and transportation for the City of Concord. “They’ve been updated to signal systems. We’d tie all of those together and be able to monitor and manipulate what’s going on.”
The system would allow the city to change stoplights to improve the flow of traffic based on the conditions, Wilson said.
The city has commissioned a $75,000 study to determine how much traffic the major corridors handle now and determine where cameras and equipment should be placed along the roads, Wilson said.
“The most important thing to remember about a traffic management center is that it’s not the bells and whistles of seeing all the video, it’s that rather than spending money to build more lanes…you’re managing the lanes you have more efficiently.”
Barry Moose, division engineer overseeing Division 10 of the N.C. Department of Transportation, said several North Carolina cities already have traffic management centers.
“Traffic management centers take all signals and time them together to optimize the flow of traffic in the area,” Moose said.
Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Asheville all have traffic management centers to help control traffic on city streets. The state also runs a center in Charlotte that handles area interstates.
The Concord traffic management center will not require a new facility. It will be housed in an existing city building downtown. Most of the cost of the center is for equipment and software, Wilson said. The center will initially be staffed with one employee, but could grow.
Concord City Manager Brian Hiatt said he expects the traffic management center to help with race and other traffic concerns in the area.
“If we can get that program funded, it certainly would be a great asset to Concord,” he said.
• Contact Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.