Chaska School Counts

As part of a Safe Routes to School initiative, the City of Chaska needed traffic and pedestrian counts around its middle and elementary schools.  The City was also curious about pedestrian and vehicle interactions at the school bus and passenger vehicle pick-up/drop-off areas, needing more data to identify or confirm issues before determining potential solutions.  The City contracted with Traffic Data Inc. to do these traffic counts and collect video at the pick-up/drop-off area initially thinking that a large budget would be required.

Traditionally, they would have been correct.  To get traffic counts around a school and observe operations, field personnel would be sent out to the school to watch all the access driveways and obtain counts during the morning and afternoon peak periods around when school starts and ends.  Another group would be sent to observe the internal operations for bus and pick-up/drop-off areas.  Since the three Chaska schools share one large campus, this project included:

  • Staggered school start and end times between the elementary school and two middle schools
  • Six access driveways to/from the campus
  • Four different bus and pick-up/drop-off zones as well as several internal intersections

These characteristics translate into a significant man-power if all counts and observations were to occur manually in the field.  Instead of sending people out in the field to do manual counts, Traffic Data Inc. set up COUNTcams to record everything.  These cameras, specifically designed for traffic counting purposes, were set up at each of the six school accesses, at two internal intersections and on either side of each of the four pick-up/drop-off areas.  The school campus is located on the northeast corner of a busy intersection, so by request from the City an additional COUNTcam was setup to record that intersection for 48 hours.

Across the street from the schools is the city community center which shares intersections with school driveways at three of its four driveways.  Since we were out there, a COUNTcam was set up at the fourth community center driveway to be able to get trip generation data for a community center.  This was not part of the project, but did not require much extra work to get this data.

Altogether, 18 COUNTcams were setup in one day.  Using those videos, 24 hour turning movement counts were then done at nine intersections plus a 48 hour count at the one large intersection. What originally looked like a very large project with a significant budget turned out to be quite manageable, and Traffic Data Inc.’s  completed it at a fraction of what the City of Chaska originally thought it would cost.