It's your money: Traffic counters

Posted at: 01/18/2013 5:08 PM
Updated at: 01/18/2013 6:13 PM
By: Ray Levato

They're on the highway and they're counting you. Have you noticed traffic devices along the side of the road when you're driving? The state DOT installed them and News10NBC wanted to know, why? What are the devices monitoring? What to do plan to do with the information? How much is this costing you?

In this age of ever-changing and ever-intrusive technology, these signs look like they're keeping tabs on you. Right now, it's just counting your vehicle and the state department of transportation says the information is necessary to keep up with traffic trends and needs.

You may have seen them while driving on area expressways in the last couple of weeks. They are remote sensing devices attached to road or speed limit signs. The state D.O.T. contracts with an outside firm to install these in various places. They're usually up from three to seven days and then moved to another location.

Lori Maher, NYS DOT Spokeswoman said, “It's a tool. It's  a non-intrusive tool that we use to count the number of cars on state highways.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “So, the question is what is the cost? How much does this cost?”
Maher said, “We have a firm that collects this data for us and we spend about $125,000 a year. They go out and collect data using these types of devices along with the black tubes you see on the roadway.”  

The state D.O.T. says it's safer to collect traffic data this way, especially in winter months when snowplows would wreak havoc with the traditional rubber hose-type traffic counters you occasionally see stretching across the traffic lanes.

Levato said, “This just seems to some people like a lot money, just to count vehicles.”

Maher said, “It is a lot of money, no doubt, but at the same time we need to know how many people. We need to quantify our decisions. We need to quantify the congestion we have.”

The cost when you toss in Buffalo and the Hornell area with Rochester is $375,000. You can access the state D.O.T. Website to view traffic counts in New York, by going to www.dot.ny.gov/tdv. TDV stands for traffic data viewer. It will tell you what the traffic count is, anywhere, any day and any time of the day.