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Cameras to be Installed along Emmet St. to Improve Traffic Flow

February 4, 2014

Charlottesville City Council on Monday approved the installation of cameras to keep an eye on traffic flow along Emmet Street, and many drivers say the extra eyes are worth a quicker commute.

"It can be a little frustrating from time to time," commuter John Powell said of the traffic on Route 29 and Emmet Street.

Council's solution to fix the backlog is the installation of InSync cameras from a private company called Rhythm Engineering.

"There's the idea of timing, computerized timing, then this goes a step further," city councilor Kristin Szakos said.

The cameras will analyze traffic to improve the flow. In the city, the target is mostly on Emmet Street heading into Albemarle County's Route 29. The board of supervisors in the county will consider the cameras, too, as this is a joint venture among the city, county and Virginia Department of Transportation.

"It actually analyzes the traffic coming in from side streets at different times of day to make sure the flow is working for all traffic, not only on the main street, but also what's coming in," Szakos said.

The intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street is among the places the cameras would be installed. They'll be perched on top of light poles.

"Anything they could do to free up traffic flow -- the cameras or adding more lanes -- I think is a good idea," commuter Thomson Silvers said.

"It's a slippery slope from time to time," Powell said. "It can work for a little bit, then one person does something, and they feel like they were unjustly caught, prosecuted, whatever you want to say."

The cost of the cameras in the city is coming from the so-called Best Buy ramp -- the onramp from Route 29 to Route 250 outside the electronics store. It was originally a city project, but VDOT absorbed the duties and the cost, so council reallocated the money saved to the cameras.

"We don't want people saying, 'Oh, you know, if I stay on Emmet, it's going to go really slow, so I'm going to cut up through whatever neighborhood,' so it will keep people moving smoothly through that area," Szakos said.

As soon as Albemarle supervisors approve the plan, the cameras can be installed. However, there is no definitive timeline for them to go up.

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