Archive for Friday, October 16, 2009

New traffic control cameras coming to rebuilt 23rd Street

Cameras set for detection, not enforcement

Humberto Morales works on cameras at 23rd and Louisiana streets Wednesday. Crews out of Topeka began installing four new cameras along 23rd Street that will regulate traffic flow by detecting when vehicles are waiting to pass at the intersections and triggering green lights.

Humberto Morales works on cameras at 23rd and Louisiana streets Wednesday. Crews out of Topeka began installing four new cameras along 23rd Street that will regulate traffic flow by detecting when vehicles are waiting to pass at the intersections and triggering green lights.

October 16, 2009


Now that the loops of wire are gone and a 1.2-mile stretch of 23rd Street is coated with 4,000 tons of fresh asphalt, it’s time for watchful electronic eyes to take over.

Work is underway to install new traffic-detecting cameras atop signals at four intersections along 23rd: at Massachusetts, Louisiana and Alabama streets, and at Ousdahl Road.

The cameras won’t take pictures or snag red-light-running drivers. Instead, they will detect when vehicles are waiting to pass through each intersection, triggering green lights as appropriate.

Such signals already are in place along sections of Sixth, Iowa and 23rd streets, as the city gears up plans to create an “intelligent transportation system” — a collection of signals, connected by fiber-optic cable, to allow for centralized traffic management.

Under the system, traffic engineers could make real-time changes to traffic patterns and adjust flows in response to accidents, rush-hour congestion or even game-day gatherings at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium or Allen Fieldhouse.

For now the system is being implemented only at six intersections along Sixth, from Massachusetts to Iowa, and possibly a few intersections along Iowa. But others could follow as financing allows.

“All of this is part of that planning,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works.

Before such cameras came along, traffic-detection at intersections typically involved coiling wire “loops” beneath the pavement, to detect when a vehicle was waiting to pass through. Such information would be transmitted to a controller box off to the side, which would be programmed to make adjustments depending on the time of day.

Cameras can make the process more flexible, by allowing signals to be hooked up to one another and have their actions coordinated by people working at a central location: in the city’s case, the Traffic Engineering building at Fifth and Mississippi streets.

Soules also likes the cameras for their durability. While they cost more than detector loops — cameras will cost the city $26,000 at each of the four intersections on 23rd — they do not have to be replaced when the city repaves a streets, Soules said.

“We don’t have to tear out those loops and replace them again,” Soules said.

Implementation of the intelligent transportation system is expected to begin next year.


gsxr600 8 years, 6 months ago

What happens when the camera fails? Does everyone crash into each other or will sensors in the road act as a backup?

Curtis Lange 8 years, 6 months ago

Finally, thank God. Waiting on Ousdahl to cross 23rd feels like an eternity at times. Next one to install: 6th and Michigan.

gphawk89 8 years, 6 months ago

The cameras are replacing the loops or just augmenting them? Every intersection I've been through that has cameras also has the telltale loop marks on the pavement. I don't know much about camera-only systems but I hope they're somewhat autonomous and don't require the traffic engineers to be watching the monitors 24/7.

gphawk89 8 years, 6 months ago

And I'm waiting for the slew of comments about how the cameras are violating our privacy rights. That Bush has some nerve... oh, wait...

pace 8 years, 6 months ago

I pray that a light will be installed at the Lecompton/Lawrence turnpike road exit unto Hw 40. It is a death trap. I no longer exit there and now even time my use of 40 to avoid rush hour at that entrance. It is horrible traffic pattern.

SeaFox 8 years, 6 months ago

"Under the system, traffic engineers could make real-time changes to traffic patterns and adjust flows in response to... gatherings at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium or Allen Fieldhouse."

As long as those adjustments aren't "Only the street for exiting gamewatchers gets green lights, everyone else can find another route to take" I'll be happy.

mfagan 8 years, 6 months ago

consumer1: I'm told city actually has mulled the possibility of installing so-called "red light cameras," but state law currently doesn't allow such systems. Here's a link to a story I did this past summer about the possibilities: I hear plenty on both sides of this issue: Some people want drivers fined for running red lights, and regard cameras as the best way to do that... Others say it wouldn't be fair, and would just be a "money grab" for local government. We'll see what the future holds... As for some of the earlier comments regarding cameras and loops... The city is attempting to upgrade from loops (in the pavement) to cameras (on the signal arms) as funds become available. Some intersections that have cameras may still have loops in the pavement, but the loops no longer are necessary; they'll be removed the next time the street is repaved.

Mark Fagan Transportation reporter

Mike Wagner 8 years, 6 months ago

The light at ousdahl is ridicules! Not to long ago they had it adjusted correctly and you didn't have to grow old waitng on the thing, but for some reason changed it back? You ever notice the to traffic signal mait. guys in town? There is a younger guy that is always in the bucket or has tools in his hand, and then the older guy with a grey ponytail is always just watching him work and ALWAYS has a fountain drink in his hand. Drives me crazy that States, Counties, Cities etc are going broke left and right yet you drive by any State, County or City construction site and 4 or 5 guys are watching one guy work!! Also, why is it that the traffic signals out by walmart (evil empire) flash a yellow left turn signal so you can go ahead and turn after there is no more on-coming traffic, but other intersections in town don't? What can we do to get the city to enable this at all intersections that have a turn lane signal? Getting of soap box now...

zjwill 8 years, 6 months ago

Yes GP there will be someone monitoring the cameras 24/7 to change the light when someone is stopped and needs the light to change. You are brilliant. Very cost effective solution. You could not really think they are monitored, could you?

Randall Barnes 8 years, 6 months ago


Steve Miller 8 years, 6 months ago

Get ready, big brother is about to get another pound of flesh, next time you run that yellow.. get out your check books. He'll mail you a reminder.......

clarkentsman 8 years, 6 months ago

mfagan (Mark Fagan)

I understand that there has been some recent discussion as to the effectiveness of red light cameras in KC MO. Could you check their opinion of the effectiveness/cost of the cameras and service and add it to the article?

BigPrune 8 years, 6 months ago

The companies that install the red light runner cameras directly profit from each person they nail, then they pay the City a portion of the proceeds. Those cameras are installed for free by the companies that profit from the supposed law breakers. I just wonder how does one contest their findings? What if they randomly nail people that are innocent?

As for the motion sensitive cameras at intersections to allow for traffic, they have one at Clinton Pkwy and Wakarusa and they suck, especially in foggy or rainy weather. I don't know how many times I've seen people run red lights after waiting through 3 or more rotations over a 6-7 minute time period with not a car in sight in the opposing direction.

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 6 months ago

its funny there are all of these safe guards in place for catching criminals but who watches the people watching us.

b_asinbeer 8 years, 6 months ago

What happens when these cameras are thrown off (calibration)? Sometimes the left turn signal is green on both sides when both turn lanes are empty.

Then it doesn't get fixed a few weeks. Gets frustrating after a couple of days.

Anyone know how often the city actually has crews to drive around and check to see if the cameras are working properly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

"We need a traffic signal at 15th and Haskell."

That's one intersection where a roundabout would work much better.

runningscooter 8 years, 6 months ago

There's a flashing yellow arrow on 19th and Louisiana by LHS. I think they're confusing because when lights aren't working then they blink, right? So I thought the light wasn't working. Other people didn't seem to know what to do either and I don't necessarily mean the new teenage drivers.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.