Eyes In The Sky

BOISE, Idaho - You'll find traffic cameras hanging around 84 Ada County intersections. But many people don't know they're there, and if they do, they're not sure what they're used for.

"I don't know anything about them," Boise resident Tom Velasco said.

"What do they use them for?" Boise resident Po Huang said.

For the answer to that question we went to the Ada County Highway District. It's in charge of the cameras. They're monitored from ACHD headquarters.

"We use traffic cameras for traffic crashes, traffic delays, debris in the roadways, stalled vehicles; anything that's going to cause a slow down with traffic," said Wendi Tillman, ACHD Traffic Management Coordinator.

Tillman also says the cameras help out with monitoring conditions around construction zones.

"We can watch the back-ups.. the delays and then our signal engineers signal timing adjustments from this room or from their offices so that we can get the traffic flowing more smoothly," Tillman said.

ACHD says the cameras are not recorded, if they were, workers would spend most of the time in court testifying in civil and sometimes criminal cases. So it chooses not to record anything.

The current system including the infrastructure cost $15 million. It also takes about $400 per year per camera for maintenance. That's an annual expense of $33,600.

After learning what the cameras are used for and how much they cost, reaction to the traffic cameras is mixed.

"Traffic flow management doesn't really strike me as one of the bigger problems we have as a community," Boise resident David Cahn said.

"I guess I can envision scenarios where it'd be really appropriate to help law enforcement," Velasco said.

"I think they could probably find some better uses for it. If you want to increase revenue you may want to charge for a traffic violations at least. You have to pay for it somehow," Huang said.


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