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City opens upgraded transportation management centre

Toronto Transportation Services' upgraded transportation operations centre on July 23, 2014. CITYNEWS/Peter Dworschak

A wall of televisions is the latest tool in what Mayor Rob Ford has dubbed the city’s “traffic fighting technology.”

The mayor and city staff unveiled upgrades to the city’s transportation operations centre Wednesday morning, including a wall of 200 television monitors watching major roadways and intersections around town.

Operators can monitor the screens in real-time and get out the word quickly about accidents or disruptions.

“What we see here today is a result of the City of Toronto’s ongoing commitment to fighting traffic congestion,” Ford said.

The TVs are part of a $20-million plan to upgrade technology and build more traffic management infrastructure.

The city has already synchronized 400 traffic signals and plans to do the same for an addition 1,000 over the next two to three years.

“Traffic light co-ordination can increase average speeds by 16 per cent and reduce total delays due to traffic by up to 30 per cent,” Ford told reporters.

Transportation Services’ general manager Steve Buckley said this initiative is part of an ongoing process to help commuters.

“The one big piece is to give folks some sense of awareness that we are actually taking action, and as we go forward, we can talk a little bit more detail about various projects as they ripen a bit and are ready for launch,” Buckley said.

Other upgrades include a “detour library” that will allow traffic management operators to adjust signals to accommodate temporary increases to traffic flow due to detours; 13 new LED signs on the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway and Lake Shore Boulevard that alert drivers to delays and detours; and more parking and turning restrictions during rush hour on major roads such as Queen and King streets.

Click here to read the city’s five-year plan to combat traffic congestion.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade estimated that gridlock costs the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area almost $6-billion annually in lost economic output and job loss.

Earlier this week, road crews were doing construction work on Bloor Street East and Castle Frank Road, near the DVP off-ramp, during the morning rush hour, causing a major backup on the parkway. It’s this type of disruptive road work the initiative would aim to curb.

How would you describe traffic in Toronto? Share your comments in the space below.

With files from Momin Qureshi and Carl Hanstke