Published: Monday, November 20, 2006
Plane to spot speedy shoppers
The aircraft will fly near Marysville on the day after Thanksgiving to help state troopers watch for problems along a busy stretch of I-5.
By Scott Pesznecker
MARYSVILLE - As shoppers hunt for early-bird sales, state troopers will be hunting for ill-tempered shoppers.
The Washington State Patrol will deploy an airplane Friday morning over I-5 near Marysville. The goal is to nab speeders and aggressive drivers while watching for accidents that could back up traffic, trooper Keith Leary said.
"We're trying to be one step ahead of the game so people can be safe when they go out for a day of shopping," Leary said.
The airplane will cover the area along I-5 between Highway 528 to the south and Highway 531 to the north.
Booming residential and business growth around Marysville and Arlington has caused heavy traffic on the freeway and its interchanges, state Department of Transportation spokesman Travis Phelps said.
In 2002, about 97,000 vehicles on I-5 passed 88th Street NE each day, according to Transportation Department data. So far this year, the Transportation Department has counted 130,000 vehicles on that stretch of the freeway, the data showed.
Last year, the state patrol didn't have a plan to help keep traffic moving. This year, troopers expect more traffic and more potential for accidents, Leary said.
"We'll be able to respond to those right away so we can get traffic moving," he said. "That's our whole goal, to keep traffic moving."
A heat-sensing camera mounted on the state patrol's airplane will provide a live video feed to the state Department of Transportation's Web site. People who plan to shop in the area will be able to view the video online. That should help people avoid heavily congested areas, Leary said.
The Transportation Department doesn't have any cameras posted to monitor traffic on I-5 north of its interchange with Highway 529, Leary said.
Other measures, such as re-timing traffic signals on I-5 off-ramps, will be taken to keep traffic moving.
"There are going to be plenty of ways for people to know what traffic is going to be like in that area," Leary said. "They can make some alternate arrangements instead of getting stuck behind an accident."