Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Traffic Cameras Show Commercial Street at City Hall and Boise

Have you noticed them, the seeing eyes mounted on a goose-neck over the traffic lights?  You were maybe a little alarmed, thinking them signs of the surveillance state, too?

Camera at Trade and Commercial
(updating image at Tripcheck)
But while their video could certainly be used for surveillance, that's not their primary purpose.

At Council on Monday, during the update on the Road Bond, City Staff discussed the cameras and revealed that they are actually part of the $1.4 million "Regional Traffic Control Center, Motorist Information Systems, and Traffic Signal Communications Projects," 21 cameras scattered around the city.

Camera at 12th and State
(updating image at Tripcheck)
From the project description:

Upgrade Regional Traffic Control Center
Remodel and expand the existing Lewis H. Garrison Regional Traffic Control Center to handle coordination of growing inventory of traffic signals, upgrade to handle improved technologies including, but not limited to, video detection, video and automated traffic counting, traffic monitoring cameras, and to serve as a traffic incident response and motorist information coordination center.

Traffic Monitoring Cameras/Motorist Information Systems
Install and network up to 24 traffic monitoring video cameras on key citywide arterial street locations to provide motorist information and traffic incident response coordination capabilities.

Traffic Signal Communications
Upgrade and install traffic signal interconnect system with fiber optic ring to accommodate communication with additional signals, video detection, automated traffic counting, and other traffic monitoring capabilities.
Happily and importantly, at least some of the data is publicly available via the State's TripCheck website.

Camera locations via Tripcheck
Here's an idea:  Let's move the camera and post a daily shot of the Boise Construction!

Traffic Camera at Boise and City Hall
Just tilt the camera up and over a little bit!

Boise:  The upper wood beams seem have been demolished;
the middle with round, yellow beams, will be parking garage
(this image from October; the top is going away)
The paper had footage of the demolition of the top layer. Those laminated beams looked like they were trashed rather than salvages for reuse. Any time big lumber goes to waste it seems like a shame.

In any case, wouldn't it be fun to be able to follow the Boise construction on the web?!

We have car traffic counts, how about bike traffic counts?

Back to the bond, we've also had several rounds of new projects funded by bond surplus. Though the dollar costs are of course variable, by count of projects, Public Works has been able to increase the number of projects by 50%, going from about 40 to 60. That's neat.

Automated Bike Counter on Hawthorne Bridge
For about 2% or 3% of the total cost of Salem's camera system, $25,000 or so, the City of Portland installed an automated bike counter on the Hawthorne Bridge.

Next time the City finds change under the sofa, maybe we could install one or more here in Salem? How about daily data on the Union Street Railroad Bridge? While it wouldn't be a perfect representation of all bicycling activity in Salem, it would be a pretty good start!

Update, March 12th

The City sent out a press release about the cameras, and the paper dutifully rewrote it.

Here is a City page with links to images from the cameras, and it's much better than the tripcheck page!

Also, last month it looked like they found spare change and would fund two automated bike/ped counters, one each on the Union St. RR and Minto Bridges.

That's great news.


Anonymous said...

You can also use the cameras to monitor bridge traffic!

Here's liberty and marion -

And commercial and center -

Maybe there's some "citizen science" in compiling pictures and duration of bridge congestion.

Anonymous said...

Timm Collins of the SJ just tweeted out a better link -

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with clip from paper and note about funding bike counters.