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Cameras eyeing Masters traffic help engineers track patterns, ease flow

News 12 at 6 O'Clock, April 6, 2010

AUGUSTA -- Thousands of golf patrons will navigate traffic cones, quick-changing lights, and message board warnings on the way to the Masters.

"You're talking about an international well-known event, and you're trying to get people in and out of here," said Richmond County Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell. "You only got so many routes you can take."

But where that can appear chaotic, there's much more control.

Meet the traffic engineers behind the curtain. Seven engineers have 12 cameras watching the most-traveled areas of Augusta this week. Those engineers decide where they want to see less congestion: Washington Road or Riverwatch Parkway.

"It's a balancing act when you're not controlling traffic as much as you're managing it and getting them to a spot," said Cassell.

Berckman's Road can be a challenge as well. The traffic patterns are less predictable during the practice rounds -- when patrons arrive at different times.

"You got different people coming each day and you're seeing issues that weren't there yesterday and they appear today," adds Cassell. "So we're trying to adjust some things on the fly."

That's done by watching the busy intersections and adjusting those lights and message boards if needed. Engineers test traffic patterns by driving routes themselves. They also use helicopters as a backup to check on patterns.

"You want to spread them out the best you can, but of course their GPS is telling them go one direction, we're telling them to go the other direction."

Traffic engineers plan to add more cameras next year and increase internet speeds. Eventually, Richmond County wants to make the cameras available online to anyone.


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