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ADOT camera upgrade provides faster online traffic views

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PHOENIX – An upgrade to the 200-plus highway traffic cameras in the Valley and Tucson allows drivers to track real-time traffic conditions and avoid congestion.

“The still camera images update every 10 seconds instead of every 5 minutes, so commuters can have up-to-date images of freeway conditions before they head out to the car,” said Doug Nintzel, an Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman.

The upgrade completes the final phase of a yearlong, $2.1 million project using federal funds to revamp ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center, where officials monitor a video wall that tracks up to 160 traffic images simultaneously.

“We’re not flying blind,” Nintzel said. “Our traffic operators are able to use what they see from the cameras to inform drivers about freeway conditions and then give valuable information to Department of Public Safety officers and other first responders.”

Nintzel said that the technology is an important tool to aid the flow of traffic, since there are limits when it comes to adding new lanes or freeways.

Darrell Bingham, ADOT’s information technology section manager, said the images are also used to update overhead message boards on freeways and to deploy DPS personnel.

“Operators are on duty around the clock, 24/7, and we’ve added a team of public information officers who are on hand from 4 a.m. to midnight each day to work on traffic updates,” Bingham said.

Travelers can get up-to-the-minute travel times, road conditions and alerts through the 511 system by calling that number toll-free or visiting the online traffic site, which offers live traffic images.

The Maricopa Association of Governments, which partners with ADOT to finance and schedule freeway projects, oversaw the project.

Audrey Skidmorer, information technology manager at MAG, said the ultimate goal of the project is handling traffic more effectively.

“The collaboration aims to make people’s lives better in the Valley and to help them be safer,” she said.