When it comes to Boston’s notoriously tangled matrix of streets, which are a challenge for local drivers and a nightmare for visitors brave enough to try navigating them, a seventh-floor command center in City Hall is where a team of engineers does its best to make order out of chaos.
The center utilizes a complex system of video cameras that can zoom, tilt, and pan in on the city’s busiest intersections, allowing staff to play Big Brother monitoring cars and pedestrians on the roads. Sixty-four percent of Boston’s traffic signals are under the city’s direct control, meaning that staff have the power to manually change signal times to make traffic flow more smoothly in the wake of accidents, construction, bad weather, or excessive congestion.
Alyssa Martino, CommonWealth Magazine, Boston's transportation 'war room', Fall 2013.
Traffic signals were introduced in Boston in 1925, 7 years after Chicago and NYC introduced them. Controlling traffic in Boston is a challenge given that between 600,000- 700,000 cars drive through the small city streets each weekday, doubling the population of the city.
In June, Cambridge introduced its first bicycle traffic signal.