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DOT promises timing overhaul to relieve Baltimore gridlock

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Jul 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-13 23:27:23-04

The frustration has been building.

Day after day. more cars see a green light while the block ahead turns red and cars are getting stuck in intersections while signals cycle through several times.

RELATED: Baltimore drivers frustrated over city gridlock

No one has been getting anywhere in downtown Baltimore and Councilman Eric Costello is hearing it.

"I mean people are driving six blocks and it is taking them a half hour,” Costello said, “It's completely unacceptable."

Unacceptable and maddening; frustration Costello and many others aimed at the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

It's director answering questions today saying the gridlock was the unintended consequence of the timing of more than a dozen downtown intersections.

"We were trying to readjust it along the way and so it got to a place where it was a little more extreme than where we thought it would be," said DOT Director Michelle Pourciau.

Instead, it put Baltimore into a dead stop.

Director Pourciau says her department was tinkering with the lights to get ready for its eventual block the box campaign.

It was completing a timing directive by Baltimore City Council President Jack Young before fines could be issued, but it obviously made it worse.

Pourciau says her engineers are returning the lights back to the original timing for now.

She says meanwhile, a significant amount of money has been budgeted for this year to not only invest in the city signal system but improve the technology for a complete timing overhaul.

"It is going to be a huge city-wide initiative. We are going to bring in the best consulting team that we can find because we have to re-tweak the whole system."

That money will go to new signals in some cases, better technology for a full-scale re-timing of city lights and that outside firm to study how to bring it all together.

Meanwhile, the block the box campaign remains on ice and DOT says downtown Baltimore will return to its old timing, or baseline as they call it.