CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that Chicago area commuters can now sign up for free, real-time traffic alerts from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
“No one likes being stuck in traffic, and no one wants to spend time stuck in congestion when they could be home with their family or doing something else they enjoy,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “And thanks to new technology, we can help drivers avoid that kind of frustration. Our new traffic alert system means drivers can get up-to-the-minute information about congested areas and travel times, which can help them avoid delays and get to where they’re going faster.”
The new system--at www.iltrafficalert.com
--allows people to register for customized e-mail traffic reports providing travel times, vehicle speeds, construction work, congestion and incident information about 72 route segments on Chicago area expressways and suburban Tollways via e-mail, cell phone text messaging, or other mobile devices. Additional segments will be added pending completion of construction projects and other factors. The system is being launched in the Chicago area as part of IDOT’s ongoing congestion mitigation efforts.
When people register, they must:
1. Choose the segments of roadways they want to be alerted about.
2. Select the one or two times of day when they want to receive alerts.
3. Select the days of the week they want to receive alerts.
4. Select whether they want to customize alerts to receive them only if the average speed on the road is below a certain threshold.
5. Select the type of data they want to receive: incidents, construction, congestion reports and/or travel times.
The new system was developed in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Computer Science and its sub-contractor Delcan Corp. It can register up to 1,000 new users every 15 minutes, so IDOT officials caution that if demand for the new service is high, users may have to wait several hours if they encounter problems signing up for the system.
IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin, urged drivers not to read their hand-held devices while on the road.
“We want this new system to help commuters avoid congestion, not to contribute to crashes,” Martin said. “That’s why when signing up for the alerts, set the time of day for before you are scheduled to hit the road. We want drivers who are behind the wheel to stay focused on their driving.”
George Billows, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association (ITA), described the new system as “easy and user friendly.”
“I am confident that many ITA members will use this site on a regular basis,” Billows said. “The selection of road segments, times, days of the week, etc., was excellent. Drivers with e-mail via phone or blackberry, on board computers and certainly dispatchers will be able to make their selections to fit their operational needs.”
The new e-mail alert systems follow the launch of www.GettingAroundIllinois.com, a Web site which provides information about winter road conditions, construction activity and average daily traffic counts. The site also allows users to map travel destinations, such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, airports, tourist attractions, museums, hospitals, schools and government agencies.
In another congestion-relief effort, IDOT is teaming up with the RTA, CTA, Tollway, Pace, Metra and Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) on a marketing campaign dubbed: “drive less. live more.” designed to encourage use of mass transit and car pooling. The campaign is funded through a federal congestion mitigation grant of $1 million secured by IDOT.
Other congestion relief efforts on the state’s roadways include the Governor’s $5.3 billion Congestion-Relief Program on the Illinois Tollway system, called Open Roads for a Faster Future, which will reduce travel times by rebuilding/restoring 90 percent of the system, widening/adding lanes to many miles of existing roads, converting 20 mainline toll plazas to barrier-free Open Road Tolling, and extending I-355 south to I-80 in Will County. Open Road Tolling lanes are now available at 17 plazas.