City unveils real-time traffic cameras
January 11, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Motorists curious about congestion along Northwest Gilman Boulevard or morning traffic along Front Street South near Issaquah High School can receive real-time information from a system of traffic cameras throughout Issaquah.
The city launched a traffic camera website Dec. 28. The site includes information from cameras at 26 intersections citywide.
City planners announced the program in May and, in recent days, pushed to activate the system in time for forecasted snow showers.
The technology does not allow for streaming video to be posted to the site. Instead, the site refreshes a series of images every minute or so.
Motorists can check the camera feeds and alerts — either from home computers, smart phones or other devices — to gauge traffic before taking to city streets. The city traffic engineer changes the camera direction to account for peak commutes.
The city lost a camera Dec. 22, after a tractor-trailer toppled the traffic signal pole at Front Street and Sunset Way and destroyed the camera atop the pole. The city plans to install a replacement camera in the months ahead, but city spokeswoman Autumn Monahan said a timeline had not been finalized.
Officials said the city received numerous requests from drivers to make real-time traffic images available.
“By posting these camera images online, our citizens can now make more informed decisions about their trips before they even get behind the wheel,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said in a statement. “This site will also be extremely useful for our entire community during severe weather events.”
In November 2004, city voters approved a $3.63 million bond measure to fund the Intelligent Transportation System. The project later received state and federal grants; the infusion freed up city bond dollars for additional improvements to the network.
The system links the network of traffic signals throughout Issaquah to smooth traffic flow. The timing can also be adjusted to account for accidents, construction or inclement weather.
The planned traffic camera upgrades reached City Council members in April. The council agreed to spend $84,000 to post the traffic images online, add monitors for the feeds at the Issaquah Police Department and improve the traffic signal-timing plans through important corridors.
The council authorized the traffic engineers to spend up to $49,000 on equipment and software to add the real-time images to the city website. Monahan said the project came in under budget, but the city had not yet finalized the cost.
The state Department of Transportation also operates Interstate 90 traffic cameras along the Issaquah section.
On the Web
Motorists can check real-time traffic cameras at key intersections at a city website dedicated to the cameras.
Drivers curious about traffic along Northeast Park Drive in the Issaquah Highlands can check a real-time camera for conditions.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.