Manatee's high-tech I-75 traffic monitoring system near completion

skennedy@bradenton.comApril 15, 2014 

MANATEE -- A new high-tech traffic monitoring system along Interstate 75 is near completion, featuring closed-circuit television cameras with real-time information shared with drivers via electronic signs, phone apps and websites.

Parts of the system, which has not yet gone live, can be seen along the span of I-75 running through Manatee County from University Parkway on the county's southern edge to the I-275 interchange on its north end, according to Florida Department of Transportation officials.

A related "intelligent transportation system" project is also underway along the interstate in Sarasota County.

"Everything is going real well," said FDOT public information officer Lauren Hatchell.

Workers this week are continuing to install fiber optic communications cable and transmission equipment, closed-circuit TV cameras and roadside sensors along the interstate.

Contractor World Fiber Technologies Inc. of Sarasota will install equipment between mile markers 213 and 228 in Manatee County and between mile markers 191 and 213 in Sarasota County.

The contractor began the projects in April 2012, according to Hatchell.

Manatee County will cost about $20.9 million to equip, and Sarasota County costs will be about $15.2 million, she said.

Work is to be done by the fall.

Once installation is complete, engineers will test the system to ensure it works

properly, said Hatchell.

Once fully operational, operators will process information at the regional Traffic Management Center at Manatee County's Public Safety Center, 2101 47th Terrace E., Bradenton.

The state-of-the-art technology is expected to mitigate traffic congestion and improve traffic operations and management, and safety.

Hatchell said traffic will be monitored via cameras along I-75 allowing operators to view traffic conditions.

Drivers will like the results, predicted Robin Stublen, FDOT communications specialist.

"Once this is up and running, they'll be pleased with it," he said. "It's a very useful purpose."

Cameras operate 24/7 but do not record, and are strictly used for real-time traffic management, he said.

Alerting motorists

Operators can relay information to drivers via 25 roadway signs, and via a 511 application and/or 511 website, officials said.

Messages could include travel time/miles between interchanges, Amber and Silver alerts and potential delays such as accidents or road closures.

"Having this information available to drivers allows them to make informed decisions concerning their travels," Hatchell said.

Other expected benefits include faster emergency response times, quicker accident scene clearings and fewer secondary accidents, she said.

Dave Hutchinson, planning manager for the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, also predicted drivers would appreciate the new system.

"Especially in the event of an incident where people would receive advanced warning and may have a chance to modify their route," he said. "It also can let people know how traffic is flowing up ahead. It gives you a traffic time to an upcoming exit and an approximate travel time. I think it does give people assurance or a good idea whether things are moving smoothly or not."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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