Washington’s State Department of Transportation, US, has awarded a contract to the Valley Electric Company to install 15 miles of fibre-optics and 21 new traffic cameras along Interstate 5, in Whatcom County, to offer real-time traffic information to commuters.

Traffic cameras will be installed from the Samish Way interchange in Bellingham to the Birch Bay-Lynden Road interchange near Blaine. Washington State Department of Transportation project engineer Chris Damitio said the stretch on I-5 is essentially a dead zone in terms of traffic information.

"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," Damitio said.

Cameras, fibre-optic cables and data stations will help collect and provide reliable travel information for local drivers, as well as freight haulers and visitors travelling across one of Whatcom County’s four border crossings.

After completion of the $5.3m project, it will provide real-time traffic conditions, allowing drivers to plan, prepare and make smarter travelling decisions.

"We’ll have a great view of traffic in areas that were previously dark. Drivers will know what to expect on the roads and be able to make more informed travel decisions," said Damitio.

Work on the project is expected to begin this spring and finish in autumn 2012. New cameras will more than double the number of existing cameras along I-5 in Whatcom County.