Traffic cameras past Exit 9 on I-90 not part of state's vision
Once again there is a traffic accident on Interstate 90 by Exit 9, and
once again, we can't find out about road conditions there because
there is no traffic camera on this section of the highway.
There are quite a few people who live out past Exit 9, and finding out
what's going on would be extremely helpful. Who do I have to contact
to find out about installing a traffic cam around Exit 9? This is
becoming a very popular area to live and recreate, so knowing what the
traffic is and where the accidents are is a huge help.
Clifton Park has traffic cameras, why don't we?
-- Maureen Conlon, Castleton A: Installation of more traffic cameras
on I-90 isn't in the picture right now.
Part of the reason, according to DOT, is that traffic levels are not
yet heavy enough to trigger installation of a cameras out your way.
Meanwhile, there already is some other technology in place to alert
motorists to trouble ahead.
Here's how the region's DOT and Thruway traffic cameras are set up:
Most are situated along the four sides of a box bounded by Route 7 on
the north, I-787 on the east, I-90 on the south, and I-87 (the
Northway) on the west. You can see what the box looks like on a map on
the Times Union's Web site in the "How's the Traffic?" section and on
NYSDOT's Web site in the "Real Time Transportation Status" section.
There are some exceptions to the box rule. As you note, a few Northway
cameras are in place north of Route 7. The most distant outlier is at
Exit 9 in Clifton Park.
But along I-90, the cutoff point on the east is at the Hudson River.
I-90's Exit 9 in East Greenbush is three stops down the line from the
Patroon Island Bridge over the Hudson.
It's certainly true that your part of Rensselaer County is becoming
more popular all the time, but -- probably to the thankfulness of
those who live there -- traffic has not yet reached the Clifton
Park-sized proportions of the Northway.
"The traffic volumes on I-90 drop significantly east of Exit 8," said
DOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren. "For example, an average day's traffic
volume on I-90 in Rensselaer County between the Hudson River and Exit
8 is approximately 40,000 vehicles; that number between exits 9 and 10
drops off by 50 percent."
There are, Van Keuren points out, other options besides cameras for
checking on road conditions on I-90 east of the Hudson. For motorists
in the westbound lanes heading toward Albany, an overhead variable
message sign between Exit 8 and the river and a portable roadside
variable message sign between exits 9 and 10 display alerts.
If your car radio can pick it up, a Highway Advisory Radio frequency
broadcasts on this portion of the road, too. Yellow lights on a sign
near Elliot Road flash when an important message is being provided on
the HAR station.
Sensors in the road provide data on traffic speed between exits 8 and
9 and exits 9 and 10, and the State Police feed information to DOT's
traffic management staff, so that messages on the signs and radio
recordings can be updated.
All of this technology comes under the alphabet-soup adjective ITS,
for intelligent transportation systems.
"The deployment of ITS equipment, including cameras, in the Capital
District was designed to get the best bang for the buck by focusing on
the most heavily traveled highways," Van Keuren said. "We feel our
focus on the highest-volume highways has provided the most benefit to
the traveling public in the Capital Region with the funding available."
Q : I have noticed an inconsistency in the settings of traffic lights
near the schools on Sand Creek Road in Colonie.
The red light in front of Colonie High School changes to a blinking
yellow phase at night -- and maybe weekends. But in front of Sand
Creek Middle School, the light never switches to a blinking phase.
This is even more puzzling because, while the high school road has
another outlet, the middle school road is a dead end.
-- Joe Dellarocco Jr., Loudonville
A: You aren't the only motorist to mention this odd contradiction,
said Colonie Public Works Commissioner Bob Mitchell.
The town supervisor's office and police department both have received
"Although the town was not opposed to a change at these locations, we
wanted to make sure that the school district was in agreement," he said.
Mitchell said he received word from the police that school officials
have agreed to a plan that will put both signals on flash mode from 10
p.m. to 6 a.m.
"Our police department will begin the process to have these lights
adjusted as soon as possible," he said.