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West Des Moines traffic cameras detect backups, adjust flow of traffic


WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — New traffic cameras are helping move Iowa commuters through the Des Moines area.

The Des Moines Register ( ) reports that nearly 50 state-of-the-art cameras along West Des Moines roads have reduced traffic.

The cameras are located at major intersections throughout the city. They observe the flow of vehicle and change traffic lights when backups are detected.

Jim Dickinson, a West Des Moines traffic engineer, said travel speeds have increased, while delays and stops have decreased. He said it also seems there have been less crashes.

Traffic studies were conducted on the city's busiest corridor, which sees more than 30,000 vehicles each day, before and after the camera were installed at nine intersections last year. The results showed travel time has been reduced by 24 percent. It's estimated that those cameras save almost 160 gallons of gas every day.

"Video cameras form the eyes, so they know how many cars are waiting, how long they've been waiting and they communicate with traffic signals down the line," said Reggie Chandra, president and CEO of Rhythm Engineering, which designs and manufactures a traffic control system.

Five of the existing traffic-adaptive projects in Wes Des Moines were mainly funded by the state's Clean Air Attainment Program. The city plans to add more 18 more cameras on a heavily traveled corridor by next spring. The new cameras will cost $615,000, of which the program will pay 80 percent.

Nathan Goldberg, senior transportation planner at the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said adaptive signals should be a city's initial effort to relieve heavy traffic.

"These types of solutions should be considered and implemented before road widening and other more expensive tactics," he said.

Des Moines and other cities in Iowa also plan to add their own cameras soon.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,

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