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Published: Thursday, 5/5/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Area traffic flow data posted on ODOT site

Radar on expressways sends info to Web

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
More than 160 radar devices at 84 locations, including this one on southbound I-75 near state Rt. 582 in Wood County, will transmit traffic data not only to the ODOT Web site, but to message boards at 11 key sites so drivers can be alert. More than 160 radar devices at 84 locations, including this one on southbound I-75 near state Rt. 582 in Wood County, will transmit traffic data not only to the ODOT Web site, but to message boards at 11 key sites so drivers can be alert.
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Up-to-the-minute traffic flow information on Toledo-area expressways now is available on the Ohio Department of Transportation's buckeyetraffic.org Web site, thanks to data from an array of radar devices a contractor recently installed along the roads.

And once programmable message boards are installed at 11 strategic locations, traffic information based on that data will be displayed on them too, Theresa Pollick, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green, said. That "Intelligent Transportation Systems" project is scheduled to start later this year.

"Drivers can use this information to make their own decisions about where they're driving," Ms. Pollick said. "The real benefit's going to come when we get the ITS up. It's another way to use technology to keep drivers informed."

With one notable exception, the 168 radars at 84 locations cover the entire Toledo network, including I-75 to just south of Bowling Green and State Rt. 795 between I-75 and I-280. The speed data they gather allows ODOT to identify whether traffic speed averages above 50 mph (green), between 25 and 49 mph (yellow), or below 25 mph (red).

The exception is I-475 through the construction zone in West Toledo, which historically has the region's worst traffic backup -- the queue of eastbound motorists trying to get to northbound I-75.

Coverage is planned in the construction zone, Ms. Pollick said, but state officials haven't decided yet where to put the radars so they won't get in the way of -- or be affected by -- the construction.

The devices belong to, and will be maintained by, SpeedInfo of San Jose, Calif., which has a two-year, $2 million statewide contract to provide traffic-speed information to ODOT.

Similar systems have been installed along freeways and major highways in the Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas. Under its contract, SpeedInfo is allowed to use the traffic data in its business, which includes a variety of travel and logistics planning and support services.

While the radars provide data that will allow motorists to map out traffic flow in areas they plan to travel, they are not capable of providing any vehicle-specific information to law enforcement officers, Ms. Pollick said.

"There are no pictures. They [the radars] don't know who's running 100 mph, only that there's somebody out there doing that," the ODOT spokesman said.

The message-board network, scheduled for completion next year, will include about 70 strategically placed cameras that will allow Toledo authorities to observe traffic flow and, as problems arise, locate and identify them and direct appropriate emergency response.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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