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Eye in the sky: City increasing use of traffic cameras


They pop up on occasion — small, portable cameras tied to long poles, pointed at an intersection in the city of St. John’s. They are not used for direct enforcement, but instead monitor traffic.

One of the portable cameras used to take video at selected intersections in St. John’s.

The cameras have been used for about 10 years in St. John’s, but are being used more often these days, The Telegram was told in response to questions about one of the units.

Coun. Sandy Hickman said the traffic-counting cameras are really moneysaving and timesaving tools for city workers.

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“The traditional way is to have a guy or girl sitting in a car watching. So this is better on shift time, salary counts,” he said.

The units (they have two Miovision “Scout” units in use) record video of vehicles passing through an intersection, or along a roadway, but also provide numbers on how many vehicles passed through an area, or how many turned left, turned right or went straight on through an area.

They offer an indication of where there is too much traffic and where drivers are “shortcutting” — leaving the main drags to speed through side streets, including residential areas, in the hope of shortening travel time.

The city’s camera placement is determined by existing traffic flow data and which areas might require updated counts, but also by residents’ complaints.

When it comes to real change in traffic numbers, Hickman said, one project sure to result in changes is the Team Gushue Highway Extension, with the expectation being the number of vehicles on Columbus Drive and feeder streets will drop when the new artery opens. At last update, the opening was scheduled to happen before the end of 2017.

telegram@thetelegram.com

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