Traffic, parking issues to enter digital age

The Daily Mississippian By Meg Pace
March 18, 2004
story image 1 Map courtesy of Greg Easson
One aspect of the Intelligent Transportation System is to establish numerous locations arcoss Oxford and the Ole Miss campus to have cameras mounted over the intersection and the lights timed to alieviate traffic during peak hours.

By the end of 2004, Ole Miss commuters will no longer have to waste time with full parking lots on campus looking for a place to park.

As part of the Intelligent Transportation System project being installed in various locations around Oxford and the Ole Miss campus, students and community members will be able to log onto a Web site and view the traffic flow and parking lots throughout the community and campus.

"It will give commuters a heads-up of what traffic looks like (that day)," said Greg Easson, associate professor of geology and geological engineering and co-principle investigator on the ITS project.

The ITS project is a cooperative development of Ole Miss, the city of Oxford, Lafayette County and Mississippi Department of Transportation.

 
Map courtesy of Greg Easson
The project also will do many traffic counts at key intersections around the city and the county to best know when and how busy the intersections are over a 24-hour period.

It is headed up by Easson and Hugh Sloan, a business professor and co-principle investigator, who handles all the marketing aspects of the project such as scheduling, budgeting, evaluating products and writing grants.

The Federal Highway Administration funds the project through MDOT.

This is not the first system in Mississippi, but most ITSs are located in larger cities such as Jackson and Hattiesburg as well as even larger metropolitans like Boston and New York City. Oxford will have the only rural ITS in state and be among less than 20 other rural ITSs in the country.

The ITS is a system that will improve traffic flow through timed traffic lights and cameras monitoring critical intersections and parking lots that will all be linked through fiber optic cables back to the Traffic Operation Control Center. The controller at the TOCC will then be able to control the cameras and traffic signals.

If the controller notices the traffic backed up, he can move the camera around and try to find what is causing the problem and then change that traffic light accordingly, Easson said.

 
Map courtesy of Greg Easson
An overview of football parking taken during last years Memphis vs. Ole Miss game was taken to see parking patterns during major events.

The police will also be able to monitor traffic flow through the video without actually getting in the traffic, said Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth.

"It will enable Oxford to coordinate traffic," Howorth said. "The system will certainly have some long-term benefits."

Numerous cameras will be located at key intersections on Jackson Avenue, University Avenue and Highway 6.

Another major impact the ITS will have is to help alleviate traffic problems on football game weekends, such as all the parking along Highway 6.

One of the major concerns and goals of the project is to curb traffic problems during football games. However, Easson said they cannot solve all the problems surrounding the games.

Easson hopes to have an additional camera up and tested before the end of this semester at the intersection near the Turner Center.

Commuters will then be able to log onto the Oxford, UM Intelligent Transportation System Web site, http://OUMITS.olemiss.edu, and look at that commuter lot through the camera which can film nearly 270 degrees around.

ITS also enables the university and Oxford to collect important data, such as how many cars travel through an intersection in one day.

At the intersection of University Avenue and Grove Loop, around 10,000 cars travel through the intersection within 12 hours on a weekday, Easson said.

 

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