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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Contact: Bill Outlaw
Tel: 202-366-0660
FHWA 44-02

FHWA Cites Top Web Sites That Provide Vital Safety, Congestion Information to Travelers

ANCHORAGE, AK-The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the winners of its 2002 national awards for traveler information web sites that provide vital information about safety and mobility to users nationwide.

"The internet is an important means of providing traveler information," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "These outstanding sites were chosen because of their 'user friendliness,' comprehensiveness of information, and real-time reporting. Reliable, accessible traveler information helps relieve congestion and improve safety by giving travelers and shippers the information they need to choose the best time, route, and even mode of transportation."

Recognized as the top traffic information sites in the United States were the Houston (TX) TranStar web site, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation traffic information web site, the Oregon Department of Transportation Trip Check web site, and the GCM Travel web site, a cooperative effort of the Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee priority corridor partners: the Illinois, the Indiana and the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation. The winners were formally recognized at the board of directors meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in Anchorage, AK.

Houston TranStar (http://traffic.tamu.edu/) is a consortium of agencies in the greater Houston area. The Texas Department of Transportation, working with the Texas Transportation Institute, sponsors the web site. For the second year in a row, Houston TranStar's team is a winner. Houston TranStar provides information and links related to most modes of transportation, emergency preparedness and environmental issues. Houston TranStar also has added cameras and links to roadway weather stations.

Oregon Trip Check (http://www.tripcheck.com), developed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, provides information to help people make good decisions. Users especially like the road cameras-more than 100 of them, including 45 in rural areas such as mountain passes where knowing road conditions can be crucial to safety. Trip Check updates highway information in the regional offices. It extends to other modes and links to transit, ridesharing, bicycle and airport information. More transit information is on the way with the start of a statewide trip planner project.

The Rhode Island DOT traffic information website (http://www.dot.state.ri.us) gets lots of "thank you's" from people who use it for routing and easing their commute. Businesses particularly like the e-mail alerts for routing trucks. Cooperation with the maintenance and construction departments has been essential to providing good information; splitting responsibilities between content and technology has produced a usable site with good content.

The GCM Travel web site (http://www.gcmtravel.com), developed by the Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation, is based on extensive data all three states send to a data-sharing system. With this system, users can link to information across the entire three-state priority corridor, including cameras, traffic maps, and dynamic message sign messages. There is already some multimodal information, with a link to airport information through an icon on the traffic map. A transit icon and a link to a regional transit trip planner are being added in time for the ITS World Congress in November in Chicago. Down the line, real-time transit information will be added to the data sharing system, and a 511 traveler information system will use the same data sharing system to provide information on the phone.

Content in the reviewed Web sites was evaluated on whether it presented information on current conditions, incidents, construction notices, high occupancy vehicle lanes, tolls, and the extent to which other useful information and links were provided. Usability criteria addressed such things as the organization of information on the site, navigation through the site, and how well the information is described to the users.

The technologies of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) provide data to populate traveler information web sites. For more information about ITS and the web awards, visit the Federal Highway Administration's operations website at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov.

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