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[whitespace] Plan calls for cameras to monitor traffic flow in Bay Area

Cities say the goal is to create awareness of traffic conditions

Campbell--Campbell motorists will soon be observed by cameras in an effort to better monitor traffic around the city.

The city of Campbell will be starting work to improve traffic across the Bay Area as part of a resolution passed by the San Jose City Council in December 2000.

As part of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Enhancement project, Campbell, San Jose, Santa Clara and Milpitas will be using cameras to monitor traffic.

Matthew Jue, Campbell's traffic engineer, said the cameras will not be recording traffic, only observing it.

"We don't have a VCR, and we just wouldn't have the resources to record anything," Jue said. "It's just a resource that will become a benefit to us."

The two proposed locations for the cameras to be set up in Campbell are at Camden and Whiteoaks avenues and the intersection of San Tomas Expressway and the southbound Highway 17 ramp.

Jue said that although the city won't have someone monitoring the traffic flow through the cameras 24 hours a day, there should be someone watching during high-traffic hours.

Should traffic problems or accidents occur in any of the areas monitored, city staff will be able to manipulate traffic signals to get traffic moving.

"A possibility is they can implement signal timing plans that would help facilitate traffic in the direction they want to go," Jue said.

While this technology is already in place, Jue said the infrastructure is not up and running yet.

Overhead signs are also planned as part of the project. Many of these signs are already in place, such as the one on northbound Highway 17 near the Camden Avenue exit. These signs will warn motorists of traffic situations.

"The idea is to provide the public with as much information as possible," Jue said.

According to a staff report from the city of San Jose, one component of the project includes expanding fiber optic cables from the existing trunk line on Bascom Avenue and San Tomas Expressway to Los Gatos and Santa Clara, enabling real-time communications between the cities.

Work on the project should begin within a few months and be completed by June 2002, according to the report.

DKS Associates has been chosen as the consultant because of its history and experience with transportation projects.

Funding for the project is coming from the Bay Area Quality Management District's Transportation Fund for Clean Air, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century demonstration funds and the ITS Deployment program. Total cost is estimated to be $1.3 million The project's construction cost is estimated to be $2.3 million and will be administered under a separate contract by Santa Clara County.

In February 2000, the Valley Transportation Authority hosted an open house to inform people about the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Plan 2020 (VTP 2020). Part of the plan focused on ITS projects, which included fiber-optic cables that would enable travel and transit information to be transmitted immediately. Many commuters may notice cameras that have been set up to monitor traffic on freeways were part of this VTP 2020 plan.
Erin Mayes

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Web extra to the June 7-13, 2001 issue of Metro.

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