Memo-07-10-2018-Item-12

July 10, 2018

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:       Resolution Requesting Installation of NCDOT Traffic Cameras on NC 58 - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the attached resolution formally requesting that NCDOT install traffic cameras on NC 58 at the July 10 meeting. 

NCDOT currently operates the Travel Information Management System (TIMS, located at   https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/default.aspx ), which provides real-time traffic data for locations all over North Carolina.  The TIMS system includes numerous real-time traffic cameras, primarily in the Piedmont and the Wilmington areas, but also along the Outer Banks.  Drivers can access these images from any computer or smartphone by visiting this site.  There is currently only one traffic camera in our area, and that camera is located at the base of the Morehead City / Atlantic Beach bridge on the mainland.  The next closest traffic cameras are located in Wilmington and the Outer Banks.  There are currently no cameras in the Jacksonville, Greenville, New Bern, or Kinston areas.  I have attached a map from the TIMS website that shows the location of other NCDOT traffic cameras, along with screenshots of a few traffic cameras in eastern NC.

As you know, NC 58 experiences traffic congestion during peak periods, primarily during the summer season and on busy weekends and holidays.  The installation of traffic cameras on NC 58 – in Emerald Isle and/or at the NC 58 / NC 24 intersection - with online broadcasting of current traffic conditions would provide a convenient tool for residents and visitors to monitor traffic conditions coming into, leaving from, and within Emerald Isle.  The installation of NCDOT traffic cameras would enable better trip planning to avoid traffic congestion, and could potentially result in a more dispersed, steadier flow of traffic on NC 58.  If new traffic cameras are installed, the Town would include the appropriate link(s) on the Town’s website and on the Emerald Isle APP and would heavily publicize the availability of the traffic cameras.

Ideally, traffic cameras would be installed at one or more of the following locations:

  • the NC 58 / NC 24 intersection,
  • the NC 58 bridge (perhaps mounted on the NCDOT electronic message signs),
  • the NC 58 / Coast Guard Road intersection,
  • the NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive intersection, and/or
  • potentially a larger view of the NC 58 corridor available from placement on an existing water tank.

The new traffic cameras would be financed, installed, and managed by NCDOT as part of the TIMS system, and the Town would provide any helpful support desired.

The Town has considered the idea of traffic cameras in the past, however, these efforts involved the Town financing, installing, and managing new cameras.  The Town lacks the technical expertise and resources for this effort, thus it never came to fruition.  With the continued growth in the NCDOT’s TIMS system, however, it may now be possible to persuade NCDOT to invest in these helpful improvements. 

If the Board approves the attached resolution, I will forward the Town’s official request to NC Board of Transportation Members Thomas Taft, Hugh Overholt, and Gus Tulloss, and NCDOT staff for our region.  I am hopeful that NCDOT can identify funds for this improvement sometime in the next year and potentially have any new camera(s) in operation prior to the 2019 tourism season. 

I look forward to discussing this issue with the Board at the July 10 meeting.