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Montgomery County traffic mess may continue

Montgomery County officials said Thursday they are struggling to restore synchronization to 750 traffic signals throughout the county and are bracing for an outage that could last into next week.

The computer that regulated the flow of traffic crashed completely about 3 a.m. Wednesday. According to Montgomery County spokeswoman Esther Bowring workers have isolated the location of the problem but have not been able to find a solution.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Department of Transportation officials said crews will begin manually transferring synchronization information to traffic signals along major commuting routes, with the goal of having 100 signals complete by Monday and another 100 by the middle of next week.

One official described the problem as being similar to getting a dial tone on your phone but being unable to complete a call.

Officials said consultants have been brought in to assist with the troubleshooting. It is possible a solution could emerge, they said, but the manual plan was being developed as a contingency.

Montgomery County officials were offering free rides Thursday on Ride On buses to ease the inconvenience for commuters.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 5, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion  
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MoCo must be joking; whoever was in charge of this system should be fired.

Posted by: mjwies11 | November 5, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

While the lights are still out of sync, can someone please suspend the HOV rules? People who normally take local roads - like 355 - are opting to use 270 instead and causing additional congestion. Also, the egress from 270 is messed up by the lights at the exit ramps. Please suspend HOV rules during this disaster!

Posted by: jlmpwinstel | November 5, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Starting at the highest salaried, start firing until someone generates a solution. There's no point employing people who are not problem solvers. And undoubtedly the first to go should be Isiah Leggett. On the other end, start ejecting politicians who favored installing speed cameras over updating and maintaining a traffic signal system. For people who spend so much of their time normally stuck in traffic and now having to spend even more, it's disheartening to learn that the people charged with the task of maintaining and fixing this problem appear to be completely incompetent. Firing them all starting afresh may be the best solution. After all, how much worse can the problem get when they haven’t even been able to identify the problem after two days? Heck, the cable guy is even better than that!

Posted by: goshkruse | November 5, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Hike the state gas tax, kick some revenue down to the counties and update these antiquated systems. Keep the speed cameras but bring that revenue to something relevant to its source - the roads/traffic system. Add bike paths to major roads so that biking can be used as a mode of transportation to work.

Posted by: feartheturtle128 | November 5, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

What was their Contingency Plan? Where was their DR site? How are their servers backed up?

Posted by: lazywilkie | November 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"The computer" does that imply 1 computer? Millions spent on speed cameras and one computer runs all the signals. That clearly is grounds for promotion in Montgomery County.

Posted by: tom501 | November 5, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the firing from the top down. This was an issue that was raised by someone within the department almost 2 years ago. Instead of putting funds toward fixing the issue, we get more speed cameras. This is just Preposterous! I have paid enough speed camera fines to upgrade the system myself. Please upgrade from the current Commodore 64 System MoCo. (The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January, 1982.)for the younger readers.

Posted by: mcowell | November 5, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"MoCo must be joking; whoever was in charge of this system should be fired."

The universal solution of the person too lazy to manage people. Or "How to get in a mess by firing everyone that knows anything."

Posted by: gary4books | November 5, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: kurrambero | November 5, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I've lived in many parts of this country and in much of Western Europe over the past few decades: the transit system here is hands down the worst I've ever seen. Not just Montgomery County, but Northern Virginia and certainly the District, as well. In the first place, the inexplicably lame excuse that "a computer glitsch has our traffic lights on non-rush hour cycles" is absurd on its face. In the second place, a computer failure is eminently correctable, IF you have anyone working for you who understands the IT system you've put in place. The fact that this lame excuse has now gone on for going on three days indicates to me that Montgomery County has not hired competent IT people; also no competent communications people -- come to think of it, I doubt it's hired any competent people. The good thing is that we don't overpay our taxes -- no, not much!

NA, Rockville

Posted by: nickalexander | November 5, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on the opening of HOV lanes until it is fixed. They should also suspend road construction on county roads, specifically, for one, the work being done of Old Georgetown Road north of Bethesda !!
Old G'town got so backed up after 9am today, it was backing up onto the Beltway, onto the spur, and up 270. The construction crews closing all but one lane plus the light problem is just nuts.
Use some common sense for heaven's sakes !

Posted by: JONJJ | November 5, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

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