|Gwinnett expands traffic cameras to help relieve rush-hour commute|
Know before you go. That’s the idea Gwinnett County is pushing. County officials plan to install monitoring cameras to help divert traffic during peak hours in two more of the county’s most congested areas.
A six-mile stretch of Pleasant Hill Road between Lawrenceville Highway/U.S. 29 and Buford Highway/U.S. 23 is slated to get new traffic monitoring equipment, as well as nearly three miles along Buford Drive/State Route 20 between I-985 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard near the Mall of Georgia.The two areas will be added to the Gwinnett Department of Transportation’s GC Smart Commute web site, which currently monitors about a dozen heavily traveled intersections and corridors in the county.
The traffic cameras are not the same as the red light cameras that snap photos of the license plates of drivers who run red lights. County officials say the traffic cameras will help motorists better plan their commute by providing them live streaming traffic feeds that can be viewed on the GC Smart Commute web site. The traffic cameras also allow county officials to make real-time remote control adjustments from the Gwinnett Traffic Control Center in the congested areas.
“This just gives us another tool in the toolbox. If we see any unusual back-ups or accidents, we can make adjustments to keep the lights green and keep traffic going,” said Chuck Bailey, director of the Division of Traffic Engineering and Planning with the Gwinnett Department of Transportation.
Bailey said the technology is similar to that of the Georgia Department of Transportation, which provides live traffic feeds from highways. The high technology in Gwinnett, he said, is critical in keeping pace with the county’s growing population and all of the traffic that has come along with that growth.
Gwinnett, which has 805,321 residents, is Georgia’s second most-populated county behind Fulton County, which has 920,581. Gwinnett’s population has grown from 588,450 (36.9 percent) over the last decade. That compares to Fulton’s increase in population, which rose from 815,827 residents (12.8 percent) in 2000. DeKalb, the third most populous county in the state, had a 3.9% change, rising from 666,048 to 691,893 residents in the last decade.
Kim Abnatha has witnessed that growth firsthand. She says she has seen Gwinnett become a traffic nightmare since she moved to the county in 1985. She didn’t know about the county’s traffic monitoring.
“I usually listen to 750 on the radio so I’ll know what to expect. So many people have moved to Gwinnett now, the traffic is awful,” said Abnatha, who drives from her home in Lilburn to downtown Atlanta where she works for AT&T. “When school is in, I have to leave at 5 a.m. to get to work by 7 a.m. I work earlier hours during the school year just to avoid the traffic in the evenings. Anything they can do to help with traffic is welcome.”
Gary Moore, who also lives in Gwinnett, said he didn’t know about the traffic cameras, but applauds the county’s efforts to help cut down on backups. Moore said he avoids much of the traffic by driving to the Gwinnett Express Bus lot, located at US 78 and Scenic Highway, to travel downtown. He said the motor coaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
“I take a bus that leaves at 6:30 a.m. and I’m generally at work by 7:30 a.m. I could actually drive somewhat faster, but there is a good cost savings on gas and parking,” Moore said. “It’s also much more relaxing to let someone else drive. I can read, catch up on work items, or my favorite—just sleep. The only inconvenience is that you only have half-hour intervals between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. to depart, then return trips between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.”
Gwinnett has awarded two contracts to R.J. Haynie, Inc. to begin installing the traffic cameras and fiber-optic cables. Haynie, the lowest bidder, will receive $847,668 for the work. The cost will be paid with 80 percent state transportation funds plus 20 percent from Gwinnett’s 2009 SPLOST sales tax program.
Gwinnett to issue e tickets to offenders
New technology is coming soon to Gwinnett County’s public safety vehicles. Police officers, code enforcement, animal control and fire marshals will be able to issue electronic tickets to offenders and upload their citations to central servers over a cellular modem.
Commissioners have approved a $1.02 million contract to buy the new equipment from the highest-scoring of seven bidders, Thinkstream, Inc. of Baton Rouge, LA. The money will come from public safety funds in the 2009 SPLOST sales tax program