The new traffic camera and weather station at the Highways 6 and 8 junction. Photo: Chas Hundley
An eagle-eyed Gales Creek local may notice, perched atop a pole on the Wilson River Highway/Highway 6 near the junction with Highway 8/Gales Creek Road a small, spinning windmill device, and a camera.
The hardware, consisting of a camera, weather station, and various components to make it all work, was installed recently by Washington County Land Use and Transportation, and then turned over to the care of the Oregon Department of Transportation, where it is planned to go live in March or April, joining hundreds of other traffic cameras across the county and state.
Every few minutes, the cameras snap a photo, which ends up on ODOT’s Tripcheck.com, and in Washington County, on wc-roads.com. The cameras are used by motorists, commercial drivers, newscasters, and more to check road and weather conditions.
The installation was one of eight recently undertaken by the county, sprinkling traffic cameras and weather stations of varying capability across the county as part of the county’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Plan.
The Gales Creek camera is not the only recent install in the region; a camera and weather station in what might be considered downtown Timber at Timber Road and Railroad Avenue was added to Tripcheck on February 11. The weather station portion of that installation is expected to go live after additional work is done by the county, according to Heather Sturgill, a public information officer with Land Use and Transportation.
In a phone call with the Gales Creek Journal, Washington County Land Use and Transportation Principal Planner John Fasana outlined the process by which an image and weather data is captured and eventually ends up online.
“Our plan is to provide as much of this information we can onto Tripcheck as a platform for the public to be able to go and get it, that’s kind of the one stop shop for traveler information,” Fasana said.
Generally, the installations have similar devices, though individual camera and weather station sites may vary depending on the local conditions, Fasanna said. A camera that captures still images, two weather devices, including a pavement sensor to capture temperature, and a smart weather sensor that captures data from the air, such as air pressure and wind speed, relative humidity, dew point, and air temperature are common. The components operate on cell service, sending images and weather data over a cellular signal to the county, and are hard wired into the local electric utility company.
The camera at the junction of Highways 6 and 8 will be the fourth camera along the route, with two close to Tillamook and one already at Lees Camp.