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Miller Bay Road lights keep traffic flowing

KINGSTON ­— After long waits, frustrating commutes and road project after road project, North Kitsap residents can again easily use the Miller Bay Road corridor. All three sets of traffic lights promised by the Kitsap County Public Works Department have been installed with a little updated technology.

In addition to the signals, traffic cameras are perched above the lights with the specific intent to see cars at the intersection and change the lights to let them through. The cameras could also be used to monitor and count traffic. The one thing they won’t be utilized for, at least for now, is to catch speeders and motorists running red lights.

“It’s a video detection system,” said Public Works construction manager Jacques Dean. “Instead of induction loops, which are magnetic strips, or having the lights timed, the cameras actually detect traffic. It’s a new system. The video picks up when a car pulls into the intersection zone.”

Induction loops are placed below the road surface and use magnetic energy to detect if a car is waiting for the light to change. The cameras cost roughly the same, and will take less funding to maintain in the future, Dean said. The loops wear out in time, and if too much asphalt is poured over them for patching and other road improvements, they don’t function accurately.

“We’ve done some cameras in Silverdale,” he said. “We’re kind of going to the video system because it’s less maintenance. The loops break or don’t function if there is too much asphalt over the top of them. Ballpark, they are about the same cost, and in the end the cost isn’t as great for the cameras because of less maintenance.”

The new lights at Miller Bay and Indianola roads and Miller Bay and Gunderson roads look nice, cameras aside, Dean said. Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer drove through them after they were completed last month and said he thought the corridor will be much more efficient with the lights.

“It seems to be working really well,” he said. “People, just like I did a little, wondered why we needed two lights so close together, but once you drive it, you see it works really well.”

The third set of traffic lights at Miller Bay and West Kingston roads have been operating since mid-September 2007 and also sport the traffic cameras.

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