BC highway webcams ease traffic woes

Due to increased public demand the B.C. Ministry ofTransportation recently added 40 highway Webcams to ensurecommuters a smooth ride.

The cameras provide approximate real-time viewing of the conditions onprovincial highways viewable on the B.C. Highway Cams Web site.

The new cameras have been added within the past few weeks to the16 already in existence, according to Jeff Knight, spokesperson,public affairs bureau, B.C. Ministry of Transportation.

“They’ve been very popular,” said Knight. “The Highway Cams Website recorded 1.8 million visits in the first quarter of thisyear.”

Knight said the cost of the cameras is jointly funded by thefederal and provincial governments, through the Strategic HighwayInfrastructure Program (SHIP).

Jonathan Sabean, policy advisor, IntelligentTransportation Systems (ITS) office, Transport Canada, saidthat SHIP is a $600 million initiative.

“It was a two-part fund, $500 million for highway construction,and $100 million for national system integration,” said Sabean. “Wehave $30 million to fund ITS initiatives that comes out of theintegration piece of the funding.”

The 40 newly added cameras cost “just under” $500,000 with atypical camera costing about $20,000 to install — assuming there’spower and communications available, according to Knight.

“The cameras themselves are built to endure rugged weatherconditions because they are often situated in remote areas whereweather can be extreme,” said Knight. “Extreme weather and trafficcongestion are some of the factors taken into consideration whendeciding where to place the cameras.”

There are technical considerations as well, he said. There hasto be power for the camera, accessibility for maintenance andcommunications carrier availability.

“The Highway Cams site has also added several new featuresincluding the My Highway Cams feature,” said Knight. “It allows youto choose the cameras that you want to view and you can group themtogether onto one page to make it easier to access.”

There are also clickable maps of the Webcam locations and FAQ’shave been posted on the site as well.

“The site helps people plan their day a little bit better,” hesaid.

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