Idaho launches statewide 511 travel information service

| 11/29/2005

A new statewide travel information service that gives updates on winter road and weather conditions, emergency closures and access to tourist information was launched on Tuesday, Nov. 29, by the Idaho Transportation Department.

By dialing 511 or visiting, travelers will be updated as conditions change on Idaho’s highways. The new system also includes more than 70 Web cameras located across the state. Idaho 511 will share 576 phone lines with multiple states, minimizing the chance of callers getting a busy signal during winter storms.

“A well-informed motorist travels smarter and travels safer,” said Charles L. Winder, chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board, in a press release.

Within minutes of road and weather conditions being reported from transportation department snowplows, the information will be updated on both the Web site and telephone information.

“Timely information is critical to making the best travel choice,” Winder added. “Idaho’s new 511 system will not only provide current road and weather conditions, but is free and easy to use.”

Nineteen mountain passes are included on the program’s Web site. For each pass, a live camera shot and a pass report keep travelers updated on road and weather conditions, the current temperature and any restrictions. The Web site also features links to neighboring states’ traveler information sites.

Calls to 511 are considered local when dialed from a land line phone. Cell phone users are responsible for normal airtime and roaming charges in accordance with their service contracts.

Idaho is the 24th state to provide the 511 service. 511 is part of a national effort that began in 2000, when the Federal Communications Commission assigned 511 for nationwide access to travel information. When traveling in a state with 511 service, dialing the number will connect you to that state’s system.

The 511 system already is working in other states in the region, including Washington, Oregon, Utah and Montana. Wyoming and Nevada are expected to deploy 511 within the year.