Grant for new tech could ease traffic congestion

City Council has agreed the administration should apply for a $1.4 million Green Light Go grant meant to ease traffic and make pedestrian crossing safer in the East Third Street/Old City Gateway Redevelopment Project area, the eastern most part of the central business district.

Rebecca Halady, city engineer, said the technology will be wireless.

“We will have pre-emption for emergency services and River Valley Transit buses,” she said.

That means control will be given to those in the emergency vehicles and buses to change the light signalization to accommodate smoother flow of traffic and less congestion.

The technology includes use of Grid Smart, a camera that was tested on West Third and Pine streets, which allows for 360-degree detection and masks out areas of buildings and structures enabling the camera to pick up vehicles driving north, south, east and west.

When traffic is stopped, it will change the light flow and make it easier for motorists to get through the heart of the business district.

The Grid Smart camera system will cover four intersections: Fourth and Mulberry streets, Third and Mulberry streets, Third and Basin streets and Third and Market streets.

The money from the grant would go toward construction, design and engineering and construction inspection for the entire project.

The project will be let through the state Department of Transportation, Haladay said.

Some question arose from Councilman Clifford “Skip” Smith, chairman of the council public works and safety committees, who voted in favor of the grant being submitted, about the increasing amount of the grant.

Smith said he wanted it noted for the record the initial grant was for $500,000, then it was upped to $966,000, which the public works committee gave a positive recommendation for, and then it was revised for the council meeting at $1.4 million.

The amount of matching funds agreed to increased in two days since the committee meeting.

“What changed since Tuesday?” Smith said, looking at the revised grant application request.

Haladay said the administration didn’t want to limit the amount it could receive in the grant.

The expected cost to the city of $280,000 is a 20 percent match the city will be required as local share for the grant, Haladay said.

In order to get to the matching funds, should the grant be awarded, the city plans to use multiple funding sources, such as the donation by the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, money from a bond, possible use of liquid fuels funds and a donation from Lycoming College.