At first we ignored those huge new electronic signs telling us how long it would take to navigate the Schuylkill Expressway from, say, KOP to Vine Street. What could a sign know about drivers we’ve seen reading, lifting weights and (we swear) masturbating as they go? But the dashboard clock doesn’t lie: Those signs are spot-on. “They are, aren’t they?” PennDOT regional traffic management center supervisor Frank DiJoseph says proudly. The system, he explains, is based on E-ZPass; sensors above the roadway scan tags to track how long it’s taking cars to get from A to B, generating continuously updated travel times.
The lack of feedback from commuters surprises DiJoseph. I have some: I hate his signs. Hitting the Expressway used to be like the lotto: You just never knew. Now … “Where’s the mystery?” DiJoseph says, and laughs. “You could close your eyes passing the signs,” PennDOT rep Charles Metzger jokes. Why not? I wouldn’t be the only Expressway driver who’s blind.