Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seattle traffic travel times down...

We made some improvements to the computers that power the Seattle traffic site and unfortunately it blew up the algorithm that calculates the Seattle traffic Travel times.

Our technicians are working on it and hope to have it back up and running soon. Trust us, we are as bummed about it as you are and completely understand your frustration.

In the meantime, if you are looking for travel times you might check out another section of our Web site. You can enter starting and destination city and arrival time, for many central Puget sound cities, and it will return to you an estimated amount of time that it will take to get there.

Check it out, we call it our 95% reliable travel times. 95% of the time this is how long it will take to get to your destination.

Note: Travel times working again as of 1pm this afternoon.

Thanks again for your patience.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Are we really driving less? Really?

We just updated the page where we are tracking the statewide traffic volumes. This month's update is rather amazing, showing that the traffic was nearly 5 percent less last month than it was in 2007, 2006 and in 2005.

We show all three of those years so you can get a sense of the trend, especially since typically Americans drive more each year, not less. We would expect a 3 percent increase in a typical year. In the first five months of 2008, we were seeing a roughly 2 percent drop in volume. But in June, driving tanked. Amazing.

But notice the chart above that shows the average monthly gas prices along with the drop in traffic volumes? The price of gas goes up, the drop in traffic volumes fall.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Litter and the Ecology Youth Corps

Ever seen those Ecology trash bags full of litter on the side of the road and wonder how they got there? They 're brought to you by the Ecology Youth Corps.

The Youth Corps program, supported by the Department of Ecology, removes more than 1.1 million pounds of litter and illegally dumped materials annually from along Washington's roadways.

The youth, ages 14 to 17, work in two, four-week sessions. The litter crews will be at work from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 24 to July 18 and again from July 22 to August 15. Crews work in teams of five or six with an experienced adult supervisor. Each crew cleans four to ten miles of roadway per day.

On rainy days, or when the weather is too hot, the crews will take a break from the road to receive classroom education that focuses on climate change, waste reduction and recycling. Or they might visit a park or rest area to educate the public about litter issues.

They aren't the only ones who assist in the highway clean up effort. Other participants include county community litter-cleanup programs and state agencies, Corrections, Natural Resources, Parks and Transportation (through the Adopt-A-Highway program). You can read more about the who's who of litter clean up.

Can you believe that even with a fine of up to $1,025 for littering there are over a million pounds of litter to be cleaned up from the roadways every year?

If you happen to see report litter coming from a vehicle and want to report it, call toll-free to 866-LITTER-1 (866-548-8371). Learn more at

Just like the WSDOT workers, highway cleanup crews all follow roadway safety rules - cones, reflective vests, hardhats, etc. - and they get extensive safety training. With these young people at the roadside, we can not over emphasize that you need to Give 'em a Brake.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Got an idea?

One of my co-workers stumbled on this site and it generated a lot of talk within our office. A cabinet office in the UK has come up with a very clever campaign entitled, "Show us a Better Way. Their slogan is:"Imagine a government agency that asks people what they want, and rewards them for good ideas." ( The best part is that they are offering a cash reward to implement the best idea.

Although we don't have any money to offer, what would you like to see us do differently on the Web? We are always looking to improve, innovate and make WSDOT information and services easy to access and use, but what are we missing? Could we make simple changes and provide big improvements? What service do we offer that you wish could be improved? Is there WSDOT data that you'd like to see? Do you struggle to find something because it's hidden under a topic you hadn't thought of?

Please don't posts rants, but if you have implementable ideas we would love to hear about them. What could we do to improve the information or services we provide?