A traffic light system designed to ease traffic congestion on state Route 256 has earned Pickerington a 2011 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio (ACEC).

A traffic light system designed to ease traffic congestion on state Route 256 has earned Pickerington a 2011 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio (ACEC).

The statewide, nonprofit engineering association recognized the city for installing a $338,000 Adaptive Control System (ACS), which uses monitors at eight intersections on Route 256 from Stonecreek Drive north to Diley Road to measure traffic volume and determine when traffic signals should change.

The project was completed in early 2009.

In April, it earned Pickerington city engineer Greg Bachman an invitation to a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) conference in Anaheim, Calif., that focused on improving traffic flow in hotspots throughout the country.

The ACEC award was presented on June 23.

"From ACEC, last year the city received an 'Outstanding Achievement Award' for the Diley Road project," Bachman said. "The award this year is an even higher status award."

According to information provided by the city last November, an average of 134 crashes per year occurred on Route 256 between state Route 204 and Refugee Road from 2003 to 2007.

At that time, Bachman said the majority of the crashes were due to congestion on the city's most heavily traveled thoroughfare.

For years, the Route 256 corridor in Pickerington has been on the Ohio Department of Transportation's "Hot Spot" list of the 100 worst corridors in the state for traffic accidents.

City officials acknowledge problems still persist within the state Route 256 corridor, but say the ACS system has helped traffic, and in granting the award, the ACEC concurred.

Many of the remaining traffic congestion problems, Bachman said, are tied to the fact that the Ohio Department of Transportation-controlled intersections at Route 256 and Interstate 70, as well as at Route 256 and Route 204-Tussing Road aren't currently connected to Pickerington's ACS system.

City officials hope that will soon change; ODOT is investigating its intersections and comparing them to those on the city's ACS system.

"ODOT is performing their study," Bachman said. "ODOT will decide (if it will connect to the system) based on the results of their study."