Wouldn't it be great if you could predict the traffic on Hwy. 101 before you left for that big night out in San Francisco?
Mill Valley resident Chuck Ballinger thinks so, and felt so strongly about it that he made countless calls and navigated the bureaucracy of Caltrans to have a webcam installed so he could see the traffic before getting stuck in it.
Thanks to Caltrans, Marin County Supervisors and Steve Kinsey, Marin Transit, the Transportation Authority of Marin and some serious nudging by Ballinger, there is now a camera on Waldo Grade at Spencer Ave., just north of the Waldo Tunnel, that highlights traffic conditions in both directions.
The camera allows avid planners to check out the traffic flow, or lack thereof, in real time, by following this link. To do so, click here but note that Mac users will need to download a Quicktime plug-in here.
Caltrans operates hundreds of traffic cameras across the state and more than 40 in the Bay Area.
When Ballinger initially called the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District about the possibility of a Waldo Grade camera, he was told that the process might take up to two years. Luckily, Ballinger devised a plan to speed up the process.
"It took about 12 calls to different department heads at Caltrans until I was told that it would take two years to get through construction and approvals for the camera," said Ballinger. "Essentially I went back to Caltrans and asked, 'Why not relocate a camera? You have hundreds and not many actually help commuters.'"
After some more grade-A nudging, the camera was installed, and at a much faster pace than Ballinger expected.
"A lot of these offices look for reasons not to do something and I think that quite often you just have to persist and make your case," said Ballinger. "I was surprised that they got it working so quickly."