Westside Hwy 24 soon to be viewable on Channel 18

       Channel 18's “Traffic Cams” program - which currently loops through real-time views along I-25 - is not likely to crack the Nielsen ratings anytime soon, but it is a way for locals to check road conditions before taking a drive.
       According to John Merritt, one of the principal traffic engineers for the City of Colorado Springs, Westside Highway 24 will be added to that view rotation sometime in the coming year. It will also help the city see how accidents occur. “It allows us to know what's going on,” he said.
       The highway's TV “celebrity” status, made possible by surveillance cameras that are to be installed along the roadway within the next 12 months, is one of several enhancements installed or planned by City Traffic Engineering on Highway 24 between I-25 and Manitou Springs.
       The cameras will be put on 40-foot poles about ¾ mile apart, with one near each of the intersections east of Manitou, Merritt said.
       The work is part of a $1.5 million citywide program in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that started three years ago and now - after City Council action at its April 25 meeting - is about 80 percent covered by a federal air quality grant.
       Other electronic capabilities, already in operation at signalized intersections on the Westside, include giving green lights to emergency vehicles and detecting vehicles on side streets.
       “When a fire dispatcher sends a truck, he sends the information to us electronically,” Merritt said, explaining the emergency capability. “If it's the first responder, we change all the traffic signals for them.” Non-first responders still must rely on sirens to get drivers' attention at signalized intersections, however.
       Regarding vehicle detection, the electronic units “see” how many vehicles have come to a side street and allow more or less green time as a result. A place where it's not working as well is Grand Vista Circle and Fillmore Street (by the parking-lot entrance to Coronado High School), where it's too dark some nights, he said, for the detector to be effective. As a result, the city plans to install one or more street lights there, Merritt pledged.
       Also installed in the past year was a variable message sign facing both directions on Westside Highway 24 between 31st Street and Ridge Road. These electronic units, like those used on the interstate, tell oncoming traffic about any immediate traffic issues.
       In other traffic efforts, Merritt said the department is looking at a partial realignment of the 31st Street intersection to allow simultaneous north-south movement. Currently, the south traffic goes, followed by the north, then east-west.

Westside Pioneer article