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Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Online traffic-monitoring system for Washtenaw County freeways delayed

By Cindy Heflin


The map shows the location of cameras operating in the metro Detroit area.

MDOT map

Technical issues have delayed the activation of online cameras that will monitor traffic on Washtenaw County freeways, but state officials hope they’ll be working within a few months.

“I’m hoping for summer,” said Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kari Arend.


An image from the camera on M-14 east of Sheldon Road.

MDOT camera image

The system was originally scheduled to go live sometime last year. It’s been delayed by technical issues with the software and user interface, Arend said. Once the cameras are active, anyone will be able to go to MDOT's website, and get a live view of traffic on the freeways from the cameras.

Washtenaw County received 11 video cameras, eight message boards, three travel time signs and 13 travel detectors or devices that help determine traffic flow. The cameras, which have already been installed, are located at major intersections, including Interstate 94 and U.S. 23, I-94 and State Street, I-94 and Ann Arbor-Saline Road and U.S. 23 and M-14.

The message boards and travel time signs already are working, Arend said. The travel-time signs, which display estimated travel times to places like downtown Detroit and M-14, are on eastbound I-94 east of Zeeb Road and on north- and southbound U.S. 23 north of Geddes Road.

The message boards are placed in strategic locations on area freeways and can be used to warn motorists of crashes or construction congestion ahead so they can choose an alternate route.

The system is similar to one in use on freeways in the Detroit area. The closest working camera to Washtenaw County at the moment monitors traffic on M-14 west of Sheldon Road.

The federal government paid the $3.2 million cost for the project.


Frank Lee

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

As if spending millions to monitor the lack of traffic flow as oppose to improving traffic flow wasn't counterintuitive enough, now the monitors don't even work properly. MDOT initially expected the system to go live in fall 2012. Now they say late Spring 2013. What "operational issues" justify missing a deadline by such a great length of time when you are simply cloning a system that is already in place elsewhere? There is more to this story and tax payers deserve the answers/details.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Just as a heads up -- Fox Detroit already has fully functioning traffic cams for the entire Washtenaw County area, available on their website, as well as a mobile app for the iPhone

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Can you provide the link to the Fox 2 cameras that cover Washtenaw County? I haven't seen those on the website.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

These will be interesting to watch -- especially as a reporter. Hopefully the interface is friendly and dependable enough that I can check the live feed before I head out on the highway.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

The message boards do not work - anywhere in the system. Or at least they aren't being used properly. During the snowstorm on Saturday, I drove by one, at 30 mph, telling me the next major highway was 12 miles and "11 minutes" away. So I sped up to the recommended 70 mph and wound up in a ditch (no, it took about 20 minutes in the snow). When there's an accident, no one updates the signs. They're really just very expensive billboards at this point.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

This was in Macomb county, so they would be online. If the signs aren't "working", they should be blank.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

If the traffic sensors aren't online, then I would imagine the estimates might not be very accurate.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

one nation under surveillance

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Who is watching the watchers

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

I do understand the concerns about Big Brother watching, but Kari Arend assured me these will only be used to monitor traffic problems, not for watching motorists travel patterns or anything, although they could be used in some kind of emergency police situation.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

It seems that the new message boards should be able to notify of accidents ahead? To date on I-94 they have not! It also may have made sense to place them in the median and display messages both east and west? I guess that is why I am not paid the big bucks!


Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

The messages boards on 94 have displayed accidents ahead most people don't read them anyways.

Bob W

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

What is different about Wastenaw software and interface? Why are we not using what is already available for the Wayne County system???

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

I posed this question to Kari Arend at MDot and this is what she said: "The basic answer is that these are 2 different contracts and contractors. The operations center in Detroit has been up and running for many years and they already have an established operation. We are just starting in Washtenaw County and unfortunately we have some operational issues to work out before we are ready for viewing by the public."