The installation of almost two dozen traffic cameras along I-5 will begin this May after the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) awarded a $5.3 million contract to a Mount-Vernon-based electrical contractor.
Valley Electric Company will start to install the 15 miles of fiber optic line and 21 new cameras in May and are expecting to finish by fall. The new cameras will stretch from the Samish Way interchange in Bellingham north to Birch Bay-Lynden Road east of Birch Bay and will allow drivers to get real-time updates on I-5 traffic in an area not currently covered by cameras.
“We have a long stretch of I-5 that’s essentially a dead zone in terms of traffic information,” project engineer Chris Damitio said. “If there’s a crash and backups, or if it’s snowing, we can’t see it because there are no cameras or road sensors to help tell us what’s going on out there.”
New camera locations in the Blaine and Birch Bay areas include the Grandview interchange, the north and southbound Custer rest areas and the Birch Bay-Lynden Road interchange.
The camera and fiber optic cable installation is not expected to significantly delay traffic. Drivers will notice extra shoulder closures during the day and lane and ramp closures at night.
The 21 new cameras will supplement the 18 that are focused on Bellingham and the U.S./Canadian border crossing. A list of locations for the new cameras can be found at WSDOT's website.