Virginia 511: A Behind the Scenes Look

By: Bo Sykes - Email
By: Bo Sykes - Email

July 19, 2013

Every morning, thousands of people across central Virginia jump in the car to go to work, many with with the goal of avoiding congestion on the roads.

Sandy Myers with the Virginia Department of Transportation says that's where they come in.

"We want folks to have the ability to see well ahead for their trip." says Myers

VDOT's Regional Traffic Operations Center in Staunton, Virginia is staff 24 hours a day, monitoring more than a hundred traffic cameras and sensors across central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

If a crash or delay is reported, the information is passed along to Virginia 511, a system of message boards and web and phone alerts available to drivers.

It used to be that VDOT could only inform drivers of road and traffic conditions via message boards along the sides of road, or on the 511 phone systems, but now that information is just a touch away.

VDOT now as a smart phone app that displays traffic conditions, streams live cameras feeds, and even read alerts out loud so you can focus on the road.

Sandy Myers says its all about getting information to people the best way possible.

"We want folks to understand they have choices when they drive and their driving experience is enhanced with those choices." says Myers.

"If you know what's ahead of you, where the construction zones are, where the incidents are, you can make choices that are going to be more appropriate for you trip."

It is all a matter of convenience and drivers like Cindy Strickland are already taking advantage of the new system.

"It told me what was going on when I saw that some traffic was slowing down." says Strickland.

"I was able to call and see, at least get some information on how long the delay was going to be, whether I should get off."

Myers says that the ultimate goal is getting the information to drivers, no matter how they chose to consume it.

"Everybody has their own chosen method on how they want to receive information and we're just trying to give it to them in the best way that works for them."

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