A new traffic camera installed at Riverside and Fletcher drives caught the attention of Silver Lake blogger Diane Edwardson. Some of her readers said they had also spotted new cameras at other nearby intersections. It turns out the city’s Department of Transportation has been busy installing cameras in Atwater, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and other nearby neighborhoods as it expands its network of high-tech, wired intersections under what is called the Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System. The camera that Edwardson photographed on the northeastern edge of Silver Lake was probably part of a $9.1 million contract to install computer-controlled cameras, sensors and other equipment at about 60 intersections, said LADOT spokesman Bruce Gillman. Department engineers in an underground control room downtown can view images of traffic from more than 400 cameras installed across the city.
Gillman wants to make clear that these are not “red light” cameras designed to photograph traffic violations. Those red light cameras are usually bigger and located much closer to the ground. The traffic cameras are perched higher up, often more than 40 feet, and can zoom in on traffic about a quarter mile away, according to the LADOT website. The cameras help engineers determine if they need to adjust signal times if they can see traffic backed up for long distances. “The cameras help us with traffic flow,” Gillman said.” The are our eyes on the ground.”
The cameras do raise concerns about privacy. But LADOT notes that the cameras and other high-tech gear at its 4,000 wired intersections help reduce travel time by about 12% and reduce vehicle emissions because there are fewer delays. Many L.A. drivers apparently don’t mind Big Brother watching if he can help shave a few minutes off their commute.