In the seventeen years that I've been reporting traffic in Atlanta there have been many technological advances that make my reports better, more accurate and more timely. The increased capabilities of the internet has been huge including email and traffic sensors. Social media has become a great way to get traffic information out to commuters. Through twitter and facebook, commuters can relay pertinent traffic information to their friends, family, co-workers and of course, traditional media outlets. The proliferation of cell phones has been another huge advance. Now when there is traffic trouble on the roads, drivers can easily communicate with police agencies and traffic reporters.
Perhaps the biggest advance has been the emergence of Department of Transportation cameras.
I believe the first cameras were installed around the time of the Olympics in 1996 as a way to help control and monitor what was expected to be horrific traffic. Slowly but surely cameras were added all around the metro area. Currently there are 1039 cameras in Metro Atlanta monitored by the DOT including 570 on the interstates and freeways and 469 on the local roads.
Two interstates in the metro area have over 100 cameras looking down on them. There are 160 cameras monitoring I-285 and 112 cameras situated along I-75. Interstate 85 checks in with 83 cameras while I-20 boasts 61. There are 40 cameras along Ga 400 and 31 on the Downtown Connector (I-75/85).
This explosion of cameras has increased the reliability and accuracy of traffic reports. As good as callers are at alerting us to traffic incidents, being able to see and monitor the progress of the cleanup is a huge benefit of the widespread cameras.
The cameras also are huge benefit to the authorities responding to crashes, stalls and car fires. If an incident is located on a camera by the DOT the operators can then instruct the HERO Units, Georgia State Patrol or the local police departments where exactly the problems are and how they can access them. This capability has without a doubt saved lives allowing first responders to get on scene more quickly.
That being said, there are some roads that I think need more cameras. First and foremost is Interstate 20. Cameras on I-20 only go as far west as Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Fulton County and only as far east as Panola Rd. in Dekalb County. While there is good camera coverage of I-20 inside of I-285, more cameras are needed outside the perimeter.
As I-20 commuters know, traffic delays during morning drive can start as far back as Rockdale or Newton counties on the east side and Douglas County on the west side. I would like to see cameras on I-20 added between Highway 5 and the Chattahoochee River on the west expressway and between Evans Mill Rd. and Highway 138 on the east expressway.
To a lesser extent I feel that more cameras are needed on I-575 in Cherokee County, I-75 in Henry County and I-85 in northern Gwinnett County. Traffic patterns and incidents dictate that these are areas that could use additional camera coverage.
Highway 316 in Gwinnett County is another stretch of roadway that needs a significant boost in its number of cameras. There are currently only two cameras on Highway 316 even though it carries a tremendous amount of traffic.