Traffic technology sitting unused at state-of-the-art center in Montgomery County

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 11:02 PM

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – There’s a million dollar state-of the-art monitoring center that sits unused while you sit in traffic around The Woodlands.

It’s no secret that traffic is bad in Montgomery County.

“Right now in the middle of the day even when it is not rush hour you are backed up everywhere,” said Billy Briggs.

Northstar, a taxpayer-funded million dollar plus high tech monitoring system with cameras mainly around The Woodlands, was supposed to help solve the traffic issue.

But the office in Conroe is dark and the desks are empty.

In the past it has been publicized that there are more than 500 cameras connected to the Northstar system, and that the idea is to keep everybody informed in the event of traffic trouble, even sending alerts to mobile phones.

The system does have that ability, but controllers don’t often use the million dollar location because there are two.

“All of the cameras are here in Precinct 3 so it just makes sense for us to be here so we can respond quicker,” said Montgomery County Commissioner James Nowak.

Traffic engineers have the ability even to intervene and change lights to help keep traffic moving.

Nowak said the room in Conroe might someday be a more regional control center.

Not only is that room not being used, but drivers can't easily access the system from any computer as promised. The problem is old technology that requires plug-ins to work.

Nowak said a new website will let you watch anytime at any intersection at the click of a mouse.

”It has been in process all along and it is taking longer than any of us would like,” said Nowak.

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