Big Brother isn’t watching you on Charleston’s Crosstown
The new cameras above the Crosstown are hard to miss, and chances are they are not unaware of your passing on a daily commute.
But they are not recording your movements, or snapping a photo if you run a red light.
“None of the cameras are traffic speed cameras,” said Troy Mitchell, signal system manager for the Charleston Department of Traffic and Transportation.
Instead, the cameras provide a new set of eyes to monitor traffic to help keep things running smoothly, Mitchell said.
Some 22 cameras are placed at five intersections on the Crosstown. Four can be adjusted to zoom in on a scene or pan around the landscape. The cameras will be available for “incident management” such as a stalled or broken-down car, he said.
“We don’t have any connection with the new cameras on the Crosstown,” said Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis.
The cameras could eventually be used for an “intelligent traffic system” that monitors traffic and automatically adjusts green-light time to keep vehicles moving as smoothly, Mitchell said.
It’s the sort of system that has been up and running in Mount Pleasant. Older systems are simply set on timers.
The new Mount Pleasant traffic system has been in use on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard for about a year. The cameras for the system, which look identical to the ones in Charleston, are in use at about 10 intersections from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to northern Mount Pleasant. The system has yielded impressive results in terms of traffic flow, said Brad Morrison, town transportation director.
The town uses a system called InSync offered by Rhythm Engineering.
At the company website, Morrison is featured in a video about the benefits of the system. “It’s performing great,” he said.
Before and after studies show travel times on the boulevard are in the 30 percent reduction range, while speeds are up as much as 35 percent. Stops are down more than 50 percent, he said.
Mount Pleasant Police spokesman Stan Gragg said the traffic cameras are not used for law enforcement.
Mount Pleasant was the first municipality in the state to install the new adaptive traffic light management system. Aiken also has the system.
Rhythm Engineering says at its web site that InSync functions as a “traffic robot” with eyes and a brain. The company boasts that the system reduces stops by up to 90 percent, lowers travel time by up to 50 percent, reduces fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30 percent and can lower accidents up to 30 percent.
The S.C. Department of Transportation operates the largest system of traffic cameras in the Lowcountry. The DOT has 71 cameras on Interstate 26, Interstate 526 and U.S. Highway 17 as well as roads connecting to the highways. They can be viewed by the public at www.dot.state.sc.us and offer images that are frequently updated.