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What Are Those Black Cables On The Road?

Traffic Counters - Rock 96.7
Traffic Counters – Rock 96.7

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving by the cemetery, when we crossed over a couple of those black cables that run across the road. She asked me what they do, and in typical “I-know-everything” fashion, I made a wild guess, and presented it as a fact. Unfortunately, she’s on to me…

Deciding that I needed to save a little face, I figured I should make a phone call and get the answer right. After calling the City Of Casper, Assistant Public Services Director Pete Meyers was kind enough to answer my quandary. Those black cables, according to Pete, are traffic counters that measure the number of vehicles, speed, etc. I asked if they were there to help the city prepare for the upcoming construction season, and Pete said “it’s a little more long term than that”.

I later received a call from Andrew Nelson, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Supervisor, and he broke it down further for me. Basically, we receive federal funds for our roads, but we need to have accurate records of traffic in the entire urban area as a whole so we can justify those funds. Each year, the MPO places 300 traffic markers on 1/3 of the city’s streets. Each traffic marker is placed in a specific location for up to 24 hours, then moved. As of today (5/20/14), the counters have been on the streets for 10 days, and they will be removed on Friday, 5/23/14.

He went on to say that they place the markers while school is still in session, so they can get more accurate readings, but they wait until late spring so their counters won’t be torn up by snow plows.

According to Google (take it as you will), the traffic counters help the city study traffic patterns and make decisions about stop signs and traffic lights. They could also use the information to decide if a turning lane would be a good idea and things of that nature. They also help improve the city’s infrastructure. They measure how many cars are going down that road, how fast, at what times in the day and what days, how heavy the vehicles are (ex. school buses, trucks bikes, cars) etc. They improve signal times and help maintenance workers set schedules, as well.

Basically, those little black strips mean a lot to our city, so drive over them proudly!


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