Pulse: Chatter: Traffic: PennDOT’s Minute Man

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.