Civic News
Municipal government

Here’s how the City of Philadelphia will transform traffic with technology

Philadelphia is the only major U.S. city that doesn't have a traffic operations center. In fall 2014, that will change.

Photo of traffic on I-76 courtesy of Flickr user wenzday01 via Creative Commons.
Updated 10/29/13 11 a.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the location of the new traffic operations center. It will be in Juniata Park.

Philadelphia is the only major U.S. city that doesn’t have a traffic operations center. In fall 2014, that will change.

For the past five years, the city has been working on a $3.4 million traffic operations center that will allow the city to manage traffic.

The hope, said the city’s chief traffic and street lighting engineer Richard Montanez, is that the center will reduce traffic, as well as help SEPTA move faster through city streets. There’s no other way to deal with the city’s traffic, he said.

“We can’t build more roads,” Montanez said. “We can’t build our way out of congestion.”

A rendering of the city’s new traffic operations center.

According to project lead Montanez, the center, which will be in the Juniata Park section of North Philly, will be able to:

  • control about one-third of the city’s 3,000 traffic lights. It won’t be able to control all of them because two-thirds of the traffic lights are not computerized and cannot be controlled remotely. The city is working on upgrading these traffic lights as part of a $90 million, three-year project that began in 2012. Imagine the efficiency possibilities of being able to control traffic patterns through stop lights.
  • monitor traffic patterns using cameras that will be installed throughout the city. Right now, there are 12 cameras in Southeast Center City that the city uses to monitor traffic patterns, but they are only monitored about four hours a day, Montanez said. The city plans to install 50 more cameras in high traffic areas and monitor them from the center 24/7. PennDOT is also installing 39 cameras on I-95 to monitor traffic. The city will use this information about traffic patterns to guide how the traffic lights are timed.
Companies: City of Philadelphia / Philadelphia Fire Department

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Philly is ranked one of the world’s best places to found a startup, climbing to No. 25 globally

Ghost Robotics is landing a $240M exit, dodging months of protests over military uses

Coded by Kids drops ‘kids’ but keeps the focus on young people

As a returning citizen, she experienced tech overload. Now she’s fighting to end the digital divide

Technically Media