Northwest NEWS

December 9, 2002

Business

Traffic cameras fight congestion on State Route 522
   
Commuters who drive State Route 522 (Bothell Way NE) got an early holiday gift today with the addition of new traffic cameras at the key intersections of SR 104 in Lake Forest Park and 68th Avenue NE in Kenmore.
The Washington State Department of Transporation camera images can be found on the Internet at www.wsdot.wa.gov/PugetSoundTraffic/cameras/.
The cameras also feed full motion video to WSDOT’s Traffic Systems Management Center (TSMC) in Shoreline, the Washington State Patrol, transit agencies and local media.
The cameras were installed as part of a federal research project looking into the effectiveness of an advanced technology known as adaptive signal control. Although the research is ongoing, the project allowed WSDOT to install the cameras and equipment necessary to deliver video signals. The cameras, other video equipment and labor cost $65,000.
SR522 was selected for the project because it is one of the busiest signalized arterials by WSDOT in the Puget Sound region, carrying approximately 52,000 vehicles daily. SR522 also is a critical emergency route if one of the Lake Washington floating bridges closes.
The benefits of the new cameras go beyond giving drivers a tool for commute planning.
The cameras allow WSDOT engineers at TSMC to observe traffic conditions, monitor incidents and identify problems with signal timing. Engineers will be able to adjust the timing at TSMC, saving them a trip to the intersection site and reducing delays to motorists.
In addition to the locations at SR104 and 68th Avenue NE, traffic engineers also have access to cameras at NE 165th Street, 61st Avenue NE and 80th Avenue NE.
WSDOT has been using traffic cameras on freeways since the 1960’s, when they were used to help remotely operate the I-5 Express Lanes. This project marks a new emphasis by WSDOT’s Northwest Region to use traffic cameras to improve signal operations on arterials.
“As funding becomes available we would like to apply cameras and other advanced technologies to all major signalized arterials run by WSDOT,” said Morgan Balogh, regional operations traffic engineer.
The department also plans to install cameras on SR527 (Bothell-Everett Highway) as part of work to widen the highway through Mill Creek, but that project is unfunded.