Inside Los Angeles’ Quest to Fix the Nation’s Most Congested City
After years of development, Los Angeles reached a milestone that few other, if any, major cities can claim: Every single traffic light -- all 4,398 of them -- can be monitored and controlled remotely.
In the 2003 remake of the film The Italian Job, a gang of crooks decides to steal a safe full of gold while it’s being transported by armored truck through the streets of Los Angeles. But they face a hurdle: How can they plan the heist when they don’t know which route their target will take?
“You gridlock every route except the one we choose,” Mark Wahlberg’s character tells his team. “Force the truck to go exactly where we want it to go.”
The plan goes off without a hitch. The team hacks into the Los Angeles Department of Transportation computer system and intentionally sets all the traffic lights to green in order to jam up the intersections, while simultaneously creating an opening that steers their target toward the spot where they want to strike. All the while, the city’s traffic engineers look on, hopelessly befuddled.
The real-life system featured in the movie is L.A.’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control system, or ATSAC. Edward Yu, the senior traffic engineer who oversees ATSAC, says he gets asked about The Italian Job constantly, and he always has the same reply. No way, he says, could Wahlberg and his team manipulate the city’s traffic lights the way they did in the movie. “It has a logic,” Yu says of the system, which is programmed to prevent conflicting green lights. “It wouldn’t allow you to do that.”
View Full Story
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
Duncan Lets States Delay Using Tests in Teacher Evaluations2 hours ago
Ferguson Doubles Its School Counselors for Students' Return2 hours ago
National Guard Pulls Out of a Quieter Ferguson2 hours ago
Why Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Missed His Moment1 hour ago
Housing Restrictions Keep Sex Offenders in Prison Beyond Release Dates1 hour ago
Federal Judge Rules Florida's Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional1 hour ago