Local News

DOT Plans 17 New Eyes in the Sky

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RALEIGH — Triangle motorists will soon have more advance warning about traffic tangles on I-40. TheDepartment of Transportationwill install special cameras to help them deal with congestion on the busy interstate.

Rush hour presents one of the biggest congestion problems, and soon it is going to get worse when theSpecial Olympics World Gamestake place this summer. But the DOT is using the event to improve the area's traffic system long after the Special Olympics are gone.

The plan is to install 17 small traffic cameras atop poles along I-40. They are part of a new high-tech system designed to move traffic along.

"Video from the cameras will be fed to a control center that will be manned by a DOT employee at all times," says Greg Fuller with the DOT. "In the event of an accident or other traffic problem, warnings will be posted on electronic message boards above the highway."

"When an incident occurs an operator will be able to zoom in to determine the severity of the incident, and we will dispatch the appropriate response agency and we will clear the roadway quicker," Fuller said.

Similar systems are already in place in Greensboro and Charlotte. And for motorist who feel like Big Brother's watching over them, the DOT insists the cameras will not be used to track down speeders or other aggressive drivers.

"If that was for traffic control as far as catching speeders and things like that I'd probably feel differently about it," says motorist Brian Snyder. "But if it's trying to help us get around, anything, anything will help."

With the Special Olympics coming in June, the DOT is on a fast track to get the project finished. It should be done by the middle of May. Motorists may notice some lane closures until it is done.