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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Posting Travel Times on Arterial Routes

I work in a few different locations during the week, and I use the overhead message boards (at least when they have travel times) to at least give me an idea of what I can expect on the roadway ahead.

When I am traveling west on I-70 out of the city in the evening, I can tell if there has been a crash on the road ahead long before I hit the city limits. There's a nice overhead message board that tells me how long I can expect to be on the road if I am heading toward I-270. If I see the sign indicating that it's about 25 minutes to I-270, I know there's some slowdown in traffic ahead. Depending on what other information is available (perhaps an crash location or lanes closed ahead) I can even make an early decision to change my route to something that may be a little longer, but will be faster in the long run.

Now, MoDOT is putting that same technology to work on some of the other major roads in the city. Right now, Route 94 in St. Charles has smaller versions of the message boards active and providing travel times betwen I-70 and Route 40. In the next few months, we'll be installing and turning on similar boards on Route 141 and Lindbergh (Route 67).

MoDOT put these boards up at decision points -- major intersecting highways and river crossings at I-70, Route 364 and Route 40/61. Paying attention to the information these signs provide can help drivers make better choices about which roadways or bridges they want to use.

At the least, it gives them the option to decide if they want to spend some time with their fellow travelers in congestion or choose a different route.

Andrew Gates
MoDOT Community Relations


Christine said...

Good afternoon. I live in St. Charles and commute to downtown St. Louis daily. Why is the information for 70WB to 40 the only direction reported on the overhead signs? Knowing EB 70 traffic congestion would allow drivers to make a decision to divert to 370 or another alternate route. For example, EB could read "Travel time to Airport: 15mins". If space is an issue, does the technology support an Eastbound message in the morning hours and Westbound in the afternoon? That would be so helpful.

MoDOT- Andrew Gates said...

Christine -- which boards are you talking about -- the boards on Route 94 or the boards on I-70?

Denise said...

I just wanted to give kudos to MoDOT and city and county street departments for getting the city and county up and running after this snow and ice storm we encountered. I stayed in the house all day Tuesday and got out for only about 30 minutes this afternoon, but was so impressed at the streets in the Florissant, MO area. The streets looked almost as if it had never snowed!!! Just wanted to say thanks for all you guys did for us!!!!

MoDOT- Andrew Gates said...

Denise -- thank you for your comments. This was a total team effort between the county, the municipalities, the city and the state. It was a tough storm because of the types of precipitation across a very small area.

John Goewert said...

Is there any chance of opening some of this data up? I have been trying to figure out the best route or time to leave to get to certain places during rush hours and while the news reports great things like "Adjust your time by 15 minutes." I can't figure out if that would make put me in a worse or better position.

It would be nice to be able to parse out something like "Historically, 55 to 270 slows down to 30 mph between 7:15 and 7:30 am, but runs at 50 mph from 7:30 to 7:45."

Also, are the sensors really working? On that route listed above this morning (9/13/2011 7:00 am til 7:15 am), the site showed all green for that strip indicating that speeds were 50+ mph, yet the advisory speed was 30 and the entire path up to Tesson Ferry was jammed and possibly beyond.

MoDOT- Andrew Gates said...

John --

We are working on a process to get the "worst" travel times on all our highways. At this time, we are testing our process on I-64. Providing that information requires a lot of analysis of the roadway, and we are hoping to streamline that analysis with some new software in the next few months.

We have been having some problems with getting accurate speed data to the website -- the sensors on the roadway, and what they are reporting to our management center, are accurate.

From anecdotal reports on I-270, traffic really starts slowing down between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. You might try going through that area at about 6:45 or after 8 to get through the section quicker.

Until we are able to provide additional peak travel time information on I-270, you can also check the cameras to see how traffic is moving -- perhaps at 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. and then maybe from work after 8 to get a feel for what might work best for you.

Andrew Gates
MoDOT Customer Relations

Harold Martin said...

I drive south on Zumbehl at 4;30 am. The lights at West Clay cycle 1 min 3 seconds each direction. After waiting 4 minutes plus at West clay you start across and the get on lights turn red. You have to wait over a minute to head south again. Then the light on the other side of the highway turns red. Another minute waiting to get on east 70. Coming home at 9 am the lights have a 20 second cycle time. I have called MODOT but they said they fixed it and it was the same the next morning plus no one is ever there when you call and I can't stay home waiting for someone to call back

MoDOT- Andrew Gates said...

Harold -- I will pass your information onto our engineers. I am not sure which number you are calling, but we have customer service representatives on around the clock at 314-275-1500.