Asheville, NC (WLOS) — Work is underway to install 29 DOT traffic cameras around the Asheville area. It’s part of a signal system project that will allow the DOT to watch and adjust traffic signals to improve traffic flow.
News 13 was there for a camera installation along Patton Avenue, near downtown Asheville.
NCDOT deputy division traffic engineer Kevin Sexton said the project encompasses a fiber optic network of more than 100 miles.
Work has been underway since summer 2017, and the cameras can be spotted across the Asheville area. Where fiber isn’t available, solar panels are being used.
“Mostly on our main routes – Hendersonville Road, of course (Interstate) 240, Patton Avenue, through the downtown area,” Sexton said.
The goal of the project is to get crews to incidents, faster.
“If there’s an incident, we can notify emergency management, enable our IMAP (Incident Management Assistance Patrol) crews to know exactly where it’s at, what lane the incident is in or if the entire road is blocked,” Sexton said.
The cameras are also tied to traffic signals. Sexton said 276 intersections are involved, where new traffic signal cabinets are being installed, as well.
DOT said the price tag of the project is more than $10 million.
In addition, a new hub called a TMC (Transportation Management Center) will allow operators to monitor and move traffic when backups form. This means Asheville will soon join Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh in housing a center for managing traffic.
News 13 traveled to Charlotte to get a look at how one of these centers operates. At the Metrolina Regional Transportation Management Center in Charlotte, 140 traffic cameras positioned across the Charlotte area are being monitored from one room. Metrolina TMC operations manager Darren Kirby said operators watch the cameras, dispatch resources and send travel alerts.
“We’re providing travel information to the public, even when there aren’t crashes, and we’re managing traffic when there are crashes. Obviously, that’s more congestion,” state transportation systems management and operations engineer for NCDOT Meredith McDiarmid said.
When asked if the center is helping ease traffic troubles, McDiarmid said, “Oh ,yes. We keep track of our performance measures, our incident clearance times for crashes, our travel times, things like that. So, yes, we are making a difference.”
As for the timeline of the center opening in Asheville, McDiarmid said operators are being hired and trained now. When the center is up and running, drivers will be able to view the cameras as well via drivenc.gov.
Those overseeing the launch, like McDiarmid, said the construction of Asheville’s I-26 Connector means this resource will be crucial in managing the additional congestion.
“We saw that as an opportunity to kick off our vision, which was always to have a TMC in the mountain region,” she said.
The signal system project involving the placement of cameras isset to wrap up at the end of 2020, just as Asheville’s I-26 Connector project prepares to launch.
News 13 will continue to follow this story and update you as the new Transportation Management Center prepares to open in Asheville.
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