STEPHENS CITY — The town plans to install a camera to help monitor traffic at the busy Main Street (U.S. 11) and Fairfax Street (Va. 227) intersection.
Town Manager Mike Majher said Comcast plans to install a new line at The Flower Center on Main Street this month, which will enable the town to install a traffic camera in that area the week of Oct. 25.
The camera will be used to record traffic at the intersection so that drivers will know when to avoid the area if backups occur. Video from the camera will be live-streamed, and the public will be able to access the footage via a link on the town's website.
“It’s, in a way, a point of information for the citizens, if they are thinking, ‘Should I go across the bridge to Martin's [grocery store] to get milk or wait a while and check and see if there’s currently a backup on Main Street?’” Majher said.
Stephens City also will use data from the traffic footage to validate the need for road improvement projects in the town. For many years, town officials and residents have complained about traffic congestion, especially during the late afternoon. Majher said Town Council agrees that the traffic is “unpleasant.”
The Frederick County government hopes to ease traffic congestion in Stephens City by relocating I-81 Exit 307 farther south. However, that project is unlikely to happen any time soon due to its approximately $241 million cost.
But Majher and town officials believe that traffic issues captured by the camera may help Stephens City advocate for funding the Exit 307 relocation, along with other road improvements. Additionally, Majher said it will be an additional data point for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“It will give us some firm numbers and dates and times on when we are having traffic issues to help us better address the problem,” Majher said.
He clarified that the camera is not a speed camera designed to catch drivers and fine them. Instead, the town will use it to alert drivers and provide vital data about the traffic situation in Stephens City.
“What we are really looking for is further data for any and all possible transportation improvements in our town,” Majher said.