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StarBulletin.com

Camera on 7th Avenue helps state count cars


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POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2009

Question: Why is there an “;eye in the sky”; camera on the 7th Avenue Overpass on the H-1 freeway? It looks like a portable trailer has been parked on the overpass, with the camera attached.

Answer: That strange Cyclops-looking contraption is part of a traffic-count camera system mounted about two weeks ago to monitor westbound traffic.

It's one of two such camera systems acquired by the state Department of Transportation's Highways Division about a year ago and is used to count vehicles for planning purposes, said spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

The remote operation is safer—by keeping transportation workers off roadways—and also is more accurate in counting the vehicles, she said.

The 7th Avenue location was chosen because of its wide shoulders, which can accommodate the trailer on which the camera is mounted.

There are plans to post the second camera at the same overpass, counting eastbound traffic, Mori said. The camera(s) will remain on the overpass indefinitely until the necessary data is collected.

She provided some details about the technology involved:

» The system's on-board software recognizes and classifies different types of vehicles for very detailed traffic reports.

» Data are stored inside the portable trailer and has wireless access for uploads and downloads.

» The entire system is solar-powered, with 16 internal batteries capable of running two weeks without charging.

Counting and classifying the different vehicle types is part of traffic counting because the Federal Highway Administration requires that information to be submitted annually as part of the state's Highway Performance Monitoring System, Mori said.

The data on the vehicle types can help determine which roads are being used by the heaviest vehicles.

“;Knowing which sections of roadways are receiving the most daily wear-and-tear would allow us to make better plans for future improvements,”; such as timing repaving work and lane restriping; use of concrete material; determining lane widths and speed limits, etc., she said.

“;Essentially, all roads are created equal, but not all roads are utilized equally.”;

Question: I understand that you can renew passports by mail, but I do not want to send my passport in by mail. Is there a place in Honolulu that I can renew it in person?

Answer: There are dozens of sites on Oahu and in the rest of the state where you can apply for a passport.

Generally, you can apply at post offices and public libraries, as well as at the University of Hawaii and its community colleges.

You can also get a passport at the Honolulu Passport Agency in the Prince Kuhio Federal Building if you are traveling within 14 days or need a foreign visa. In this case, you need to make an appointment: call (877) 487-2778.

You can find passport locations at travel.state.gov. Just type in your ZIP code to find the closest sites.

You can also find information there about new requirements, beginning June 1, for U.S. citizens traveling by land or sea to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the 17 nations in the Caribbean.