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They’re Not Speed Traps: New Spy Cameras on U.S. 1 in Palm Coast Aimed at Overweight Trucks

| November 11, 2013

Crews last week installed video cameras on both sides of U.S. 1 between Royal Palms Parkway and Whiteview Parkway to monitor the weight of large trucks. (© FlaglerLive)

Crews last week installed video cameras on both sides of U.S. 1 between Royal Palms Parkway and Whiteview Parkway to monitor the weight of large trucks. (© FlaglerLive)

Not to worry: the ominous-looking spy cameras that have just gone up on both side of U.S. 1 between Royal Palms Parkway and Whiteview Parkway in Palm Coast, are not speed cameras. They’re not even trained at most vehicles. They’re aimed at heavy trucks only, to catch overweight truckers trying to evade the weigh stations either on U.S. 1 or on I-95.

The cameras on U.S. 1 went up last week. Another set will be built further north, by the northbound lanes of U.S. 1, opposite the weigh station, as part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s $1.2 million virtual weigh station system that’s been rigging up selected points around the county since last year. Similar cameras have been in place a year at the on-ramp of I-95 north and State Road 100, and at the off ramp from I-95 southbound, onto Palm Coast Parkway. That part of the system cost cameras cost $632,000.

A crew at work on U.S. 1 last week. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A crew at work on U.S. 1 last week. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The cameras are linked to sensors in the road that are triggered only by heavy trucks, and that automatically take a high-definition picture of the truck and its license plate. The picture is immediately read and translated by software that pipes the information to a closed-circuit database accessible to the Department of Transportation and to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“We’re providing the technology and the conduit but the end user is going to be law enforcement,” Steve Olson, a Department of Transportation spokesman, said. Troopers can park a distance away from the cameras, watch their laptop, wait for a truck that exceeds the permissible 80,000-pound weight limit, and stop the vehicle. Alternately, truckers will also be able to pull in at a pair of unmanned kiosks, yet unbuilt, and pay whatever fine they’re assessed, if they’re overweight. The state fines truckers 5 cents for every pound overweight.

The virtual weigh stations replace a far more expensive and disruptive system DOT had planned for U.S. 1: a supersize weigh station in the center median, just north of Royal Palms Parkway, opposite Austin Outdoors and Verdego. Bunnell and Palm Coast city governments strongly opposed the $11 million plan, as did school officials, who feared it would send streams of heavy loads through the city.

The opposition stopped the project, and DOT agreed to install the less intrusive, less expensive but still highly effective virtual system.


Trucks have to comply with weigh regulations because the heavier the truck, the more damage to roads. “As taxpayers we’re paying for these roads and it costs a lot of money to resurface them,” Olson said. “Federal authorities want the state to make sure you don’t have overweigh vehicles damaging roads because a certain amount of federal funding goes into your roadways.”

But the cameras look almost identical to set of 43 red-light cameras that have snapped on to most major intersections in Palm Coast since the DOT cameras went up at Interstate on and off ramps, making people fear that they were under speed surveillance. Many drivers stopped to speak with contractors installing the cameras on U.S. 1 last week, either to complain or to ask questions. From time to time, drivers who see the cameras as they approach them slam on the brakes, thinking they’re speed traps.

The Department of Transportation isn’t making a secret of the cameras’ intentions, nor is it unaware of drivers’ dislike of cameras in general—or of driver behavior when encountering cameras. Yet the department has no plans to add signage explaining to drivers what the cameras are.

“If you’re obeying the speed limits and such, there’s really nothing to fear, and if you’re a trucker and your weight is OK, you’re fine,” Olson said.

State law requires local governments such as Palm Coast to include clear signage warning motorists (or explaining to them) that red-light cameras are ahead. Asked why the state does not install similarly clear advisories—which would vastly reduce drivers’ questions or sudden reactions—Olson said: “I don’t know how to answer that.”

The cameras are triggered by sensors in the road, which are calibrated to go off only when activated by certain weights. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The cameras are triggered by sensors in the road, which are calibrated to go off only when activated by certain weights. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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23 Responses for “They’re Not Speed Traps: New Spy Cameras on U.S. 1 in Palm Coast Aimed at Overweight Trucks”

  1. Charles Ericksen Jr says:

    We also have fairly new cameras as you come off I-95 , Exit 284 from the South. I am told, that this will show any heavy vehicle attempting to bypass the weigh station, further up I-95. If the vehicle shows up at any more entrances, soon there after, it can say you got off and back on to avoid the weigh..

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, thought they were for speeding coming off the ramps, so it is actually for trucks. Because I never saw a sign stating that there was a camera there like all the other sites across town.

  2. Gia says:

    It’s about time. You can see oversized & overloaded trucks on US1, & also rolling on Belle Terre Pkwy.

    • The Geode says:

      I have YET to see a convoy “rolling” down Belle Terre. …HYPERBOLE!

    • Realtree says:

      How do you know they are overloaded and if they say oversized they are probably permitted to be oversized and delivering in your area or that is the route they were given by the state to avoid something they could not fit through or under. Your logic is flawed. Unless you have weighed them you have no idea whether or not they are overweight.

  3. Florida Native. says:

    This is so much bogus baloney.

  4. FED UP says:

    What a crock…..Its more INVASION of PRIVACY by this NAZI militarized police in this county. WAKE UP people, your being monitored by road, by air, by binoculars, by internet, by grocery shopping check out, by your electric meter, by your water bill, by your neighbor……..Why don’t these IDIOTS mind their own damn business…FREAKS !!!!!

  5. fruitcake says:

    Who are they trying to kid?
    It might begin this way but before you know it they will be using them to spy on everyone…we all need to stop
    drinking their cool-aid and put a stop to these invasions of our privacy….next they will be able to monitor your exit ramp speed and how many people are in your car etc etc etc OMG if you ever tried to tell someone 30-40 years ago what our governments were doing and how they were conducting themselves and getting away with no-one what believe you!

  6. orphan says:

    Hey fruitcake-ever heard of George Orwell?
    He saw this coming many moons ago. And few believed it then. And few believe it now. But IT is REAL!
    Be afraid! Be very…!
    Think about it. In 1949 someone authored a book that describes almost to a *t* what is happening now, and yet the VAST majority of Americans refuse to believe that THEIR government would do ANYTHING to in any way harm them. I’m laughing so hard I want to cry! :(

  7. rhweir says:

    Hope it works. Tired of seeing them wandering around side streets trying to find a way around the weigh station. This might have prevented the crash at MPW and US 1 last week.

  8. PCOG says:

    I have not seen these cameras anywhere else in the state. Something ominous is going on here. Why wouldn’t these cameras be all over Jacksonville, considering it is a harbor city with a massive amount of freight transport? Wake up America, Big Brother is closing in on you. As ammunition disappears off the shelves, you will have nothing to fight back with. Prepare yourselves.

  9. PCOG says:

    I also would like to add that if the camera is meant to capture the license plate, why does if face the direction of the oncoming vehicle? Would it not face the other direction? Weird. My guess is that it is some sort of facial recognition tech, because the cameras are trained at your windshield if you haven’t noticed already.

    That alone makes it obvious that lies are being told here.

    • Rich says:

      Commercial tractors have the license plate on the front, because they normally pull trailers, therefor the license plate would not be visible if it was attached in the rear of the tractor. The trailer has the license plate on the rear; however, the trailer is not usually owned by the operator of the tractor. If a fine is to be levied, it would go against the operator of the tractor.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh I was wondering what the camera’s were on the off ramp from 95 over by Burger King and then coming from the North. Thought it was speed on the off ramp, so it is for trucks leaving the highway, if I am understanding correctly?

  11. Concerned says:

    I just love how this article makes it look like these are for the tax payers own good. Google “FBI Cameras 2014″ to learn all about the 1 billion dollar facial recognition system. This is why the Federal government is funding these projects under the guise of “catching a few truckers dodging weigh stations”.

  12. HonkeyDude says:

    So what’s with the red flash when u go by?

  13. Sherry Epley says:

    Huuuummmm. . . consider the possibility that if every human complied with the law, and every human of voting age participated in creating those laws. . . we would not have such strident law enforcement and our rights to privacy would not continue to be thrown out the window.

    The question is. . . if no one CATCHES you acting illegally, have you broken the law?

  14. John says:

    @PCOG Heavy trucks pulling large trailers have front plates only. A rear plate serves no purpose when underneath a trailer and can’t be seen visible.

  15. Rocky R. says:

    I think it’s quite comical that everyone acts as if these two cameras are
    A) Watching them personally
    B) Are pointed directly at them at all times

    There’s hunger, poverty, crime, even human trafficking running rampant in our state, and I don’t see any of you up in arms over that..

    But good old palm coast, where the inconsequential meets the bored and vocal.

  16. Charles Gardner says:

    Wave as you drive by but do not make obscene gestures; they are illegal.

  17. Sick of it says:

    I love when the government says ” If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. How about losing my right to privacy or Constitutional rights. Internet, phone, cameras everywhere. George Orwell was right.

  18. Rick DiFormato says:

    The department of Homeland Security just rolled out its National license plate collection data base yesterday, 2/13/2014. These cameras may be used for tracking weights and truckload information at the moment but it shouldn’t shock anyone when they are used concurrently to track all of our movements as well. Big bro, out of hand.

  19. Sick of it too says:

    The red light next to the camera flashed twice into the windshield, then twice more on the rear of the vehicle as I passed as observed through the rearview mirror and thought for sure it was a speed trap. Either their sensors in the road are not working properly, as I was in a small SUV/Crossover, or they are logging everyone’s plate as they go by for reasons Rick mentioned above.

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