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Gainesville uses camera technology to aid traffic flow through major intersections
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Gainesville Public Works Director Chris Rotalsky demonstrates how public safety employees monitor intersections from inside Gainesville's new Intelligent Transportation System control room on Thursday, April 26, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville now has a new control room for its Intelligent Transportation System, a real-time, video-monitored network that allows public works and safety personnel to track and improve traffic flow along the city’s major roadways.

The opening of the headquarters on the renovated second floor of the city administration building promises an expansion of the system that city officials said helps relieve road congestion during rush hour, the holiday shopping season and other high-traffic events.

This includes expanding fiber-optic lines and increasing the number of intersections monitored “to make sure that they’re coordinated and timed in a fashion that allows us to most efficiently move transportation,” Public Works Director Chris Rotalsky said.

Currently, the city is able to monitor 22 of its 87 intersections, primarily along major corridors and entrances to Gainesville, such as Queen City Parkway, Dawsonville Highway and Jesse Jewell Parkway.

“We’re going to continue to move this project forward,” Rotalsky said. “We are very excited about this space and what opportunity it gives us.”

The control room includes a modular work setting with several high-definition televisions showing maps that can pinpoint where traffic problems exist, and help predict when and where traffic flow might increase.

The televisions also provide live feeds of intersections so that officials can manipulate the timing of traffic lights.

“It doesn’t address volume, but it absolutely addresses efficiency,” Rotalsky said. “That’s telling us real-time what’s happening at that intersection.”

And it can help public works crews more quickly identify where road work and improvements might be needed.

“This system certainly helps us understand traffic patterns and identify where we have more issues,” Rotalsky said.

The city spent a total of about $530,000 in the first four years to implement and operate the ITS, and City Manager Bryan Lackey said about $240,000 is budgeted in the current fiscal year to expand equipment on Browns Bridge and Thompson Bridge roads.

Lackey said officials are proposing to spend between $250,000 and $300,000 in the next budget cycle, which begins July 1, for monitoring, operation and expansion of the ITS.

Officials said they hope to make the system accessible to local law enforcement, the fire department and first responders, while also utilizing the new control room during emergency storm and public safety events.

“This will be our headquarters right here for city operations,” Lackey said.

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