Traffic technology reaches Forsyth County

Colorful tubes serve to better monitor traffic conditions

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Those yellow, blue, red and orange tubes being buried along nearly eight miles along Ga. 400 in Forsyth County do serve a purpose — better communication and traffic information gathering.

The “colorful tubes” are the housing protection for cable and wires on Ga. 400 that will extend our automated traffic management system (ATMS) and intelligent traffic system (ITS), said Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The $1.6 million project has a completion date of July 31 and the contract extends ATMS and ITS computer technology that shares real-time data about what is happening on the roadways.

The components are being installed from McFarland Parkway to Ga. 20 (Buford Highway), or about 7.7 miles.

“So it will extend the 511/Navigator system to Ga. 20 with cameras on the Web so you can see traffic, get trip times along the corridor,” Pope said. “Technology uses several types of cameras and sensors to gather information that is shared on our website, through our app and to the media.”

The work includes six cameras on Ga. 400 — three northbound and three southbound — plus video detection cameras at the McFarland and Ga. 20 ramps to and from Ga. 400.

“The video detection cameras will replace existing sensors in the roadway that tell the traffic signal at the ramps when a car is waiting and where it is waiting so the signal can do what that vehicle needs,” Pope said. “The sensors aren’t very reliable; they get damaged in crashes and have to be replaced frequently.”

The video detection is the next level of technology, she said. It looks over the intersections and when a car is stopped waiting to turn left, the camera notices and triggers the left turn arrow.

The cameras are much more reliable than the sensors and have little maintenance, Pope said.

“We are switching to video detection as our budget allows,” Pope said.

This also allows Atlanta-based television stations to use the camera views during their newscasts, so this upgrade will allow more real-time traffic information to be shared easily with Ga. 400 motorists.

John Cunard, the Forsyth County director of engineering, added that the project also includes fiber optic communications cable, cameras, radar detection and changeable message signs.

Ramp meters will be installed on the northbound and southbound ramps at Ga. 141 (Peachtree Parkway) and the southbound ramp at Ga. 20.

An underground fiber optic trunk line is being installed on the shoulder of northbound and southbound lanes.

The contract is with World Fiber Technologies, of Marietta. Once completed, motorists will be able to access real-time, statewide, route-specific information on accidents, road work, traffic and weather conditions through Georgia 511 — a free phone service.

By dialing 511, callers also can transfer to operators 24 hours a day to report incidents or request assistance.

The 511 service is also available online at www.511ga.org.