Friday, July 22, 2011

New travel time signs on I-90 answer the question: “Are we there yet?”

by guest blogger Meagan McFadden

The days of wondering how long it’s going to take to travel on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass are now over. In June, we unveiled three signs providing travel times for drivers traveling between North Bend and Ellensburg. The signs, located on eastbound I-90 at milepost 33 and westbound I-90 at milepost 107 and milepost 87, show the current travel time for the 74-mile stretch of the freeway.

So how can drivers use these signs to help them plan their trip over Snoqualmie Pass? Well, when traffic is moving at the posted speed limit or faster and there are no collisions, construction or weather-related delays the minutes shown on the signs will closely match the miles it takes to reach Snoqualmie Pass. However, when delays can add extra time to drivers’ trips the signs will display the added time it will take to get over the pass. 
The travel time signs are another tool we are using to aid drivers when it comes to planning their trips over the pass. Drivers will now know whether they are likely to reach their destination on time or whether the trip will take longer than expected.

Drivers can also use the signs to make decisions about whether to stop for gas, get food, take a break or continue on. The signs will trigger drivers to tune into 1610 AM on the radio or have their passengers check the Mountain Pass Web page on their smartphone for more information about current conditions.

If you haven’t already heard, construction on the I-90 Hyak to Keechelus Dam project is in full swing and will be for the next six years. Drivers who regularly commute over the pass can use the new signs to find out how long it may take to get to or from work when closures are in place.

Currently, the times displayed on the signs are provided by a data contractor, INRIX, Inc. of Kirkland, who provides real-time traffic data. We use this data to broadcast travel times on signs eastbound in North Bend and westbound in Ellensburg and Cle Elum. Later this summer, roadway sensors, which count vehicles and detect speeds, will be incorporated into the data provided by INRIX to give drivers an even more accurate picture of how long it’s going to take to get across the pass.

5 comments:

The Geezer said...

Hey, my big brained friends--

Yeah, those signs are nifty, but if you are already on the road, and mostly committed, the information is nice, but not ACTIONABLE DATA.

How about putting some of those unused trailer mounted cameras with the nifty cell/microlinks in front ot the tres kewel signs, and put the feed on the web?

Oh, yeah, I forgot, it is such a simple idea even the gub'mint can't grasp it, but the sheeples can.

The Geezer

Anonymous said...

Geezer,

"Drivers will now know whether they are likely to reach their destination on time or whether the trip will take longer than expected.

Drivers can also use the signs to make decisions about whether to stop for gas, get food, take a break or continue on. The signs will trigger drivers to tune into 1610 AM on the radio or have their passengers check the Mountain Pass Web page on their smartphone for more information about current conditions."


Sounds like the DATA would be ACTIONABLE to me. Besides, what benefit would an additional camera provide? There’s already dozens of permanent cameras stationed along the pass to provide info from home or your smartphone.

The Geezer said...

Actionable BEFORE I get on the road, not after I am almost stuck, and have to cool my heels in podunk city.

Sounds like one of those WSDOT boyz, posting as anon to me.

Geezer rests

Anonymous said...

Geezer,

I don't know if you noticed but the travel time displayed is the time it would take traveling from the sign to the city/location displayed. Not sure how knowing this time the day before or even hours before you leave would really be helpful, since the travel time is always changing (no one knows when an avalanche will block the road).

It’s helpful for drivers because they now know a 2 hour drive may be 4-5 hours and it might be a good time to gas up or get food, call the babysitter/kennel to tell them you'll be late.

Also, I'm just as critical of the DOT as anyone. But, there’s a difference between be critical and being cynical.

The Geezer said...

The Geez admits freely to being critical, when appropriate, and cynical (see the Wa Policy Center op ed in last Sunday's Everett Herald for good examples of when cynical is appropriate)

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110723/OPINION03/707249999/0/hr

I also say nice things when they do say nice things, and individually recognize, including cc to the boss, when folks say/do nice things at the WSDOT, which happens incredibly often. Heck, one time I told this guy's boss to buy him a donut, and sent boss a buck to do so. I got a pix of said donut, even--actually a maple bar.

I am not just a bombthrower, but I do that too, when justified, which also happens incredibly often. Perhaps the Geez should get a life, eh?

The Geezer

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