Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tacoma boy mesmerized by WSDOT traffic cams...

Recently we were able to make a 10-year-old Tacoma boy’s dream come true.

Drake Thomas spent some time April 28 at the Olympic Region Traffic Management Center (TMC), where he fulfilled his desire to learn about traffic cameras.

“This is the most special day of my life,” Drake said to his parents. Drake got little sleep the two nights prior to his TMC visit.

“He was counting down the hours,” said Drake’s mom Janice.

Drake’s infatuation with the traffic cameras was ignited by the soothing background music that plays during TV Tacoma 12’s “Traffic Watch” program – which flashes live images from our traffic cameras focused at I-5, SR 16 and SR 512.

Drake watches the program so intently that he’s memorized the order in which the various camera images are shown. When a particular camera view doesn’t appear, Drake knows there’s a camera not operating and he asks his parents to call TV Tacoma or WSDOT.

A KOMO4 TV crew loved the story and joined Drake at the TMC to document his visit. A feature is scheduled to air this weekend, May 3-4.

What viewers will see is radio operator Rich Langlois showing Drake how to operate the cameras, adjust the angles and zoom in and out. With the Narrows Bridge camera, Drake searched for his grandmother’s house, but it was obscured by trees.

Drake is supremely focused on the task at hand and clearly captivated by the experience. He also posted a message on the dynamic messaging sign at 84th Street. He zoomed in with the camera to confirm the “test” message was active.

“He got all excited when that thing popped on,” said TMC supervisor Ron Collier.

At home, Drake has his own traffic cameras he fashioned from toothpicks, straws and clay. His parents bought him a flip-camera, but it didn’t meet Drake’s specifications because it doesn’t “spin like a traffic camera.”

While the day was incredibly special for Drake, it was also a memorable experience for the WSDOT workers who got to hang out with Drake for an hour or so and witness his wonderment.

“This is the best part of my job,” said WSDOT public information officer Kelly Stowe, who arranged Drake’s visit.

Are you interested in being a transportation engineer? Check out our entry level engineering program.

Writing credits go to Jamie Swift of the Olympic Region Communications office.


The Geezer said...

And the special requirements/reasons for this youngster to get such a tour is????? Is this not covered by the "Homeland Security" excuse you use for not making disclosures under the Public Records Act?

How about cute old Geezers? If they are traffic aficionados do they get a personal tour too, sans the TV cameras?

I live right by your Shoreline bunker, so how about it? I wanna see my tax money at work.

The Geezer

Neil said...

Cool stuff, makes me jealous :) I'd love a tour of the place too, any chance of offering semi-annual tours and such?

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