Montgomery County Traffic Turmoil Continues

Montgomery County's computer system on the fritz

Ladies and gentlemen of Montgomery County, the thing you see above might be the bane of your existence.

What is it?

Well, it's ATMS.

What the heck is that?

It's the county's Automated Traffic Management System. The same computer that freaked out at 3 a.m. Wednesday, causing more than 750 traffic signals to not enter rush-hour mode, which has led to an incredible volume of delays during the morning and evening commutes across the county.

Since the computer can't be adjusted by transportation officials, it has created havoc on Montgomery County roads. Like Old Georgetown Road, where a traffic signal just before the Beltway entrance only stayed green for 15 seconds at a time during the morning rush, creating major backups.

"This has been one of the most significant failures of our signal system since I've been around here," said Emil Wolanin, the county's chief traffic engineer.


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County officials are going to hold a 2 p.m. news conference to provide an update. Until then, print out this picture, hang it up in the office and find as many sharp objects as you can to throw at it. It's officially ATMS hunting season.

UPDATE:  Sorry MoCo residents, but county officials said they can't make a quick fix and have to remain on a six-year plan to replace the equipment.  So for now, officials said they will try to manually adjust the timing of the 100 busiest intersections in the county by Monday.

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