New technology will aid motorists at intersection

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— The industrial-looking video cameras that appeared this month on the traffic lights at U.S. 40 and Walton Creek Road are nothing more than the latest attempt to make stoplights intelligent.

Jim Nall, district traffic engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation in Grand Junction, said the cameras replace older technology used to detect the presence of cars and trucks waiting at a light.

The old "loop system" was buried in the ground under the roadway and used magnetism to sense the presence of vehicles, Nall said.

"The cameras can detect a car and tell the light to change," Nall said. He added that the cameras do not function as surveillance cameras.

The traffic signals at U.S. 40 and Walton Creek are the first ones motorists encounter when driving into Steamboat Springs from Rabbit Ears Pass. It has been primarily a three-way intersection in the past, but construction of a new office building on the southwest corner of the intersection is about to change that.

The city of Steamboat Springs owns land on the northwest corner of the intersection that includes Yampa River frontage and is destined to become a park.

The intersection is also unusual in that eastbound traffic on U.S. 40 tends to sort itself out with fast movers headed ultimately for Denver in the right lane and slower vehicles whose drivers are planning a left turn onto Walton Creek in the left lane.

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