Cameras aren't Big Brother. They're traffic control aids

Good day folks. I may have missed this information in the paper, but I have a question about some work that was going on at the corner of Oak Grove Road and old Jacksonville Highway (West Main Street) last week. It looked like they were installing cameras on the signal support arm over the street aiming in all four directions. If so, who is watching and how will the cameras be used?

— Bill G., Medford

Aerial cameras are the latest technology for controlling traffic signals, according to our sources at Jackson County Roads and Parks.

The cameras save money because unlike their predecessor, those diamond-shaped sensors installed in the pavement, they don't have to be ripped out and reinstalled when the road is torn up for improvements or new water lines, said Russ Logue, county construction manager.

When you roll up to the intersection, the cameras see you and let the traffic signal know it's time to give you the go-ahead.

"The Department of Transportation and cities like Medford are using cameras as well," Logue said. "It's becoming a more popular way to control signals."

The cameras, installed June 17 at the intersection you mentioned as well as the intersection of West Main and Lozier Lane, will replace traffic detection loops in the pavement once they're activated on July 2.

Installing the four cameras at an intersection costs an average of about $15,000. The cameras were supplied by Kar-Gor Inc. of Salem.

The cameras were mounted in preparation for construction on West Main, Logue said.

The Medford Water Commission will install a new water line under the street this summer, he said.

Once the water line is in place, the county will begin a project to add curbs, gutters and sidewalks to West Main from Kenwood Avenue to just shy of Oak Grove.

"It's more cost-efficient to place the cameras there," said James Philp, Jackson County traffic engineer. "It's not Big Brother watching."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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