Instant traffic updates to be available in I-95 corridor

| 11/19/2008

The U.S. DOT has awarded a $6.4-million grant to further data collection and make real-time traffic updates available to highway users in the I-95 corridor.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition, consisting of transportation departments and tolling authorities from Maine to Florida along Interstate 95, will incorporate an existing data-collection system with other technologies to make traffic updates available via the Web, at information centers, and eventually to motorists by mobile phone.

“This will be extremely helpful, particularly for commercial vehicles that are using the corridor,” George Schoener, the coalition’s executive director, told Land Line on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

“If you want to, you could just zero in on one of the states, you could look at a region, and look at what’s going on with traffic time.”

The I-95 Corridor Coalition was already collecting data from GPS-enabled vehicles in a 1,500-mile corridor from North Carolina to New Jersey. The grant will help with processing and getting real-time updates to motorists.

The grant will fund a number of things, Schoener said, including speed-measuring devices placed on special cones in construction zones.

“What those cones do is they’re able to capture speeds before a work zone, within a work zone and when you’re leaving a work zone,” he said.

Data will then be transmitted to a firm contracted to develop a Web site and distributed to transportation agencies along the corridor for their use.

Updates in North Carolina will be synched up to the state’s 5-1-1 information phone system. The Virginia Department of Transportation will incorporate data into live video feeds of traffic movement in typically congested areas.

The Baltimore-Washington International Airport will soon have kiosks that will provide I-95 traffic updates as people leave the airport, Schoener said.

The coalition hopes to attract a mobile communications carrier by early 2009 to provide updates to mobile phones or other hand-held communication devices. At this point, Schoener said it’s not clear whether the mobile-phone updates will require a paid subscription.

U.S. Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Kim Riddle said the department’s goal for the grant, administered through the SafeTrip-21 initiative, is to reduce congestion and make highways safer.

“In other words, we are exploring ways to improve transportation using technology that exists today,” Riddle told Land Line.

– By David Tanner, staff writer