New cameras give big glimpse of Rabbit Ears road conditions | CraigDailyPress.com

New cameras give big glimpse of Rabbit Ears road conditions

Matt Stensland

A camera shows road conditions Thursday afternoon on Rabbit Ears Pass.

— As winter weather takes hold in the Yampa Valley, new traffic cameras have gone live and give travelers a better idea of what it looks like on Rabbit Ears Pass.

There now are three traffic cameras on Rabbit Ears along U.S. Highway 40 in addition to a camera at the Mount Werner Road intersection in Steamboat Springs. A camera also is in operation on Colorado Highway 131 in the far southern part of Routt County.

The cameras at Rabbit Ears provide a shot of the road in both directions as well as closer view of the road surface directly below.

The CDOT cameras can be viewed at http://www.cotrip.org/device.htm. Those and other cameras can be viewed at SteamboatToday.com/webcams.

CDOT Region 3 spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said the cameras will help drivers make better decisions before driving and also will help CDOT plow drivers and maintenance crews monitor conditions.

“I think it will be really helpful for this winter,” Trulove said.

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The new cameras are part of a statewide $2.8 million project to improve CDOT’s communications network. There are 80 new or replacement cameras being installed.

"We are working to systematically improve travel time reliability and safety on our highways through programs and activities that demonstrate measurable benefits and make the best use of our funding," said Ryan Rice, CDOT's director of transportation systems management and operations. "These new cameras help improve the accuracy and timeliness of our traveler information by helping people make informed decisions about their travel and will also help us identify and manage traffic incidents more effectively."

Until now, CDOT said the technology was not good enough to install cameras in remote areas, such as mountain passes where there are little or no options to plug the cameras into the network. Charged with solar panels, the new cameras use cellular service to transmit images.

Trulove said the cameras are equipped with proprietary antenna technology that helps them transmit signals in areas with poor cell service.

Rod Mead, CDOT’s operations manager for the Colorado Traffic Management Center in Golden, said in a news release that CDOT’s older cameras were operated in areas where they could tap into fiber optic lines along the roadway. They have wanted to expand the camera network.

"Until recently, the technology was not mature enough," Mead said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland