CU says tiny white boxes here to help
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Jun 10, 2013 | 2427 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AREA MOTORISTS have begun noticing the new little white squares hovering above the busy intersection formed by 25th Street and Keith Street. Some are asking if this means the city is returning to an electronic system for detecting the running of red lights or speeding. Cleveland Utilities has clarified the boxes are not for traffic enforcement. They are merely used to detect the presence of vehicles in the intersection. They are replacing the traditional underground detectors which have to be changed out with every repaving or milling project. Banner photo, DONNA KAYLOR
AREA MOTORISTS have begun noticing the new little white squares hovering above the busy intersection formed by 25th Street and Keith Street. Some are asking if this means the city is returning to an electronic system for detecting the running of red lights or speeding. Cleveland Utilities has clarified the boxes are not for traffic enforcement. They are merely used to detect the presence of vehicles in the intersection. They are replacing the traditional underground detectors which have to be changed out with every repaving or milling project. Banner photo, DONNA KAYLOR
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Little white, square boxes hovering above the congested junction formed by 25th and Keith streets may be drawing the suspicions of area motorists who remember the city’s past experiment with similar-looking traffic enforcement devices, but their fears are unfounded.

Bart Borden, vice president of the Cleveland Utilities Electric Division which has coordinated the city’s traffic signal network for the past couple of years, said the new WaveTronics radar vehicle detection equipment has been installed to replace aged and failing traffic monitors.

The new devices aren’t a big brotherly approach to law enforcement.

“The radar is used solely to detect vehicles in a region and is not used for speed detection or red-light running purposes,” Borden clarified in a recent formal session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. “The new equipment is working very efficiently.”

By investing in aerial equipment that operates above ground, CU is improving the accuracy of traffic detection while saving on long-term costs, Borden explained. Traditionally, detection equipment of the past has been looped in under the pavement and must be replaced with every milling operation and repaving of junctions. The more modern technology will save on such costs.

“When the milling projects come in ... we don’t have that cost of replacing the loops in the pavement,” Borden said.

Borden described the new devices using hand motions, “They look like white square boxes about this large. We can draw and design the software where they detect. It is very, very useful ... [such as] for configuration of intersection changes. It allows us to modify what that device sees.”

He added, “We’re also finding we can use one device to look at multiple areas and save a great deal on cost.”

In answer to a question by board chairman Aubrey Ector, Borden confirmed the modern detection equipment is also better at detecting motorcycles in an intersection.

Like underground loop equipment formerly used at the multi-laned intersection, the above-ground devices are used to detect the presence of vehicles in all directions which in turn coordinates the traffic signal cycles.

In another traffic report, Borden said data collection is continuing for motorist counts on the 25th Street corridor. All turn movement counts have been supplied to a Knoxville traffic engineering firm — Cannon & Cannon Inc. — which is the same consultant that conducted similar studies on the busy Paul Huff Parkway.

The only traffic count exceptions are Chambliss Avenue and Keith Street. Chambliss was counted, but it being processed by Miovision, a technology that CU now possesses. The Keith Street junction information was delayed because of the vehicle detection project.

Borden also pointed out replacement signs for the Inman Street railroad underpass had been ordered and were recently shipped. The east and west approaches along Inman are being fitted with the new signage, he said.

“The signs will equipped with 24 LED lamps and will have a continuous, steady flash rate as required by MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). Borden displayed an illustration which reads “Low Clearance,” and it specifies the maximum clearance to be “10FT 10IN.”

In one other traffic report, Borden said the long delay in continuing the road-widening project on Durkee Road and Benton Pike is getting even longer.

“The Benton Pike and Durkee Road project is still on hold, as it has been for several months because of a single required easement [involving] legal issues with the property title,” Borden said. “We’re very hopeful TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) will be able to acquire that easement very soon.

The road-widening project is intended to ease traffic flow in the Benton Pike and Durkee Road junction. Traffic counts, as previously expected, have increased dramatically since the opening of the new Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant and Factory Distribution Center on Benton Pike.

In other reports by Borden to the utility board:

n Work on the new district substation on 9th Street near the old Cleveland Chair site continues with the demolition of the old and outdated CU substation, the pouring of foundation footings and the removal of the old control house. Ross Construction is the contractor placing the footings. Borden pointed out, “This work is going at a slower place than what we normally see, but they (Ross) are doing a very good job and are being very careful to maintain proper spacing of anchor bolts and foundations, which is critical when steel erection begins.”

n Design work is underway on the underground feed electric system that will provide service to Phase I of Brooks Edge Apartments.

n TDOT has delayed the letting of bids for the APD 40 Interchange at State Route 308 (industrial park access). “The delays are a result of major conflicts with petroleum fuel lines and TVA high voltage towers,” Borden said. “The latest report indicates the distribution of final right of way and utility plans are now scheduled for Sept. 3.” However, the project could be pushed out even further, he said.

n Design work is underway for Silver Springs Subdivision Phases II and III on Old Freewill Road. The first phase of the subdivision, consisting of 39 lots, is completed and is located outside the city limits. Volunteer Energy Cooperative serves this phase of the development. Phases II and III are being annexed into the city at the request of the developer. These two phases will consist of 49 new residential lots and CU will serve them.

- A work order has been issued to install electric facilities for eight new townhomes on Pryor Drive between Ramsey Street and Sharon Drive.

- A work order has been issued to provide electric service to 14 lots for townhomes in Frontage Village located on Frontage Road.

- CU’s engineering department is working with the Cleveland Housing Authority to determine the electrical needs for a project to renovate apartments located between Clemmer and Baugh streets.

- CU’s engineering department has released a work order to extend overhead primary (power lines) to serve numerous hangers at the Cleveland Regional Jetport that are under development or in construction on the north end of the property. In addition, CU contractor Asplundh installed underground primary conduits to serve hangers between the new terminal and the north end of the property. The Jetport Authority paid for the labor and materials in the form of a “contribution-in-aid-of-construction.”

- A work order was prepared and released to relocate 1,200 feet of underground primary conductors and a single-phase pad mount transformer was removed to provide space for a building expansion at Bradley Square Mall. The additional space is needed for a new Santa Fe Steakhouse to be located in the mall.

- CU line crews installed seven new pole-mounted transformers on Pleasant Grove Church Road and transfered 16 electric services from Volunteer Energy Cooperative transformers. The pole line facilities and services are being purchased from VEC due to the section of Pleasant Grove Church Road being annexed into the city. Borden said CU will pay VEC 25 percent of the revenues from these customers for 10 years based on Tennessee state law.

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