Local News

Raleigh Uses 'Smart Cameras' to Control Stoplight Traffic

Posted November 2, 1999

— Have you ever sat at a traffic light, frustrated with the delay, and wondered if anyone cares? Workers at Raleigh's Traffic Control Center do.

The high-tech operations room controls 430 of Raleigh's 460 traffic lights.

Using computers, workers adjust light cycles using a simple concept. "You want to have the minimum amount of delay out there and keep the most people moving as efficiently as possible, and as safely as possible," says Mike Kennon, signal system manager.

Workers pan and zoom remote-controlled cameras looking for traffic problems. They can see almost everything from downtown to the beltline.

The city has cameras on the roof of the First Union building, 30 stories above street-level.

Three camera positions on the high rise give workers a bird's eye view of traffic.

The system is not perfect, though. Some of Raleigh's worst intersections are out of camera range. For example, the cameras cannot see the intersection of Leadmine Road and Glenwood Avenue near Crabtree Valley Mall.

They also try to adjust the lights to help the most drivers, which may leave some feeling slighted.

"We'll adjust, if we can make adjustments. But many times it's the people on the side streets, one or two people calling us, and we cannot make a change for one or two people that will affect hundreds on the main street," Kennon says.

If you are having trouble with a traffic light, you can call the center at(919) 890-3020.

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