This week, Lancaster Watchdog examines the use of traffic cameras, along with a tricky tree situation in Leacock Township.
Over the past few months, Watchdog readers have sent in complaints about traffic cameras in Manheim Township, East Hempfield Township and elsewhere not detecting vehicles properly. Many believe the malfunctioning traffic detection devices lead to unnecessarily lengthy wait times at intersections that aren’t busy.
“It is a shame that PennDOT spent so much time and taxpayer money on the traffic control cameras on Lititz Pike,” wrote one reader. “These cameras appear to do nothing to help traffic.”
It’s all local
Concerned readers might be right about malfunctioning traffic detection devices.
But on all roads, traffic signals and related devices are owned, operated and maintained by the local municipality where the fixture lies — not the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation — according to a PennDOT spokeswoman. That includes traffic devices on state roads.
That means any broken signs, malfunctioning traffic lights or detection systems should be reported to a municipality for further investigation.
Traffic cameras have been a marvel for traffic engineers. The cameras are growing in popularity compared to inductive loops, a magnetic wiring system underneath pavement that detect metals in cars through magnetics.
“They work great,” East Hempfield Public Works Director Perry Madonna told Watchdog.
While effective, inductive loops require lane closures to saw open roads and install the system. Inductive loops are also prone to sensor damage sooner depending on the wear of the roads from heavy traffic or inclement weather, Madonna added.
Traffic cameras can sometimes be repaired through a software update and at worst, be easily replaced.
Cameras used in Lancaster County include video and thermal cameras, as well as radar, according to PennDOT. The department recommends municipalities inspect them every six months with sooner check-ups depending on reports.
Back in late May, an unusually strong storm caused destruction in spots across Lancaster County.
60 mile-per-hour wind gusts brought trees down on houses and trailers in Rapho Township and even toppled a tractor-trailer near Leacock Township, according to LNP archives.
The storm also snapped part of a tree on Old Philadelphia Pike between North Ronks Road and Orchard Road, falling on a utility line, according to one reader. The heavy branches remain hanging nearly four months later.
Watchdog has reached out to the roadmaster in Leacock Township and is awaiting a response.
Notice any problems?
Email the Lancaster Watchdog at email@example.com or go to LancasterOnline.com/watchdog and tell us about it. You can also send mail to Lancaster Watchdog at P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328.
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