Matrix-like computer could be traffic's blue pill
BATON ROUGE - A high-tech traffic command center is up and running and is designed to keep your commute on point in the morning.
About 500 cameras, linked together, give traffic engineers at the Department of Public Works a better view of what's happening on streets. The project has been in the works since 1987 when the first traffic study was completed. By 2014, the city has updated traffic signals that are brighter, bigger, cost effective and most importantly, synced.
"It let's everything happen automatically," said Chief Traffic Engineer Ingolf Partenheimer.
The cameras give engineers an eagle eye view of what's happening on the roads. Prior to this system, engineers had to venture out to an intersection and take a look themselves. Now, if there is traffic congestion or a problem on the road, the lights can adjust themselves.
"Before, we'd have to wait for somebody to call us," he said. "Now, we can actually see as the occur and fix them right away."
With the click of a mouse, engineers can pull up a camera at an intersection, notify a problem and make an adjustment.
"For instance, problems on the interstate, we can make changes to the on-ramps as needed and the off-ramps to get people on and off," explained Partenheimer. "That should allow traffic to keep moving."
Cameras at each intersection detects when a car approaches an intersection. It also determines the length of the signal, including if and when the light changes. If there is no one in the turn lane, there's no arrow. Partenheimer says that saves time during peoples' commute.
The idea is to get the whole city on one system and more lights working together. DPW will tackle Choctaw and parts of North Foster, next. The system will eventually link all major intersections around the city.