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

Friday, July 21, 2000
Contact: Virginia Miller
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 49-00

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Grant Program for "511" Conversions

Following todays Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) decision to grant the U.S. Department of Transportations request for a three-digit traveler information telephone number, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater announced a new program proposed by Vice President Gore that would grant states and local jurisdictions start-up funds of up to $50,000 each to convert their existing numbers to the single number.

At an open meeting today, the FCC designated "511" as the single traffic information telephone number to be made available to states and local jurisdictions across the country.

"The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to supporting state and localities jurisdictions as they convert the roughly 300 existing numbers to 511, " said Secretary Slater. "Through a new Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) grant program and technical assistance from our field staff nationwide, we stand ready to make a smooth transition to the single number."

Secretary Slater called the FCC decision a "visionary, landmark action that will change the way America travels into the 21st century. 511s delivery of traffic information to virtually every American will provide choices in our professional and personal lives that will save lives, time and money."

The grant announcement today followed the FCCs decision on the departments March 8, 1999, petition for a single three-digit telephone number that could be used by states and locals to deliver current traffic information for drivers. Noting the proliferation of traffic information numbers around the country and the creation of new area codes, the department petitioned the FCC last year for the single number.

Millions of dollars already have been invested by the public and private sectors in ITS technology to improve safety and mobility on U.S. highways. The new number provides a simple, means of access to traffic information collected through ITS. Once in place, the new number will help travelers avoid congestion and traffic incidents and save lives, time and money.

Secretary Slater noted his appreciation to individuals and organizations nationwide who supported the departments petition, particularly John J. Collins, president and chief executive officer of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America; John Horsley, executive director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; and William W. Millar, president, American Public Transportation Association.

Details of the new grant program are being developed and will be available soon. Information about 511 implementation and conversion, as well as the conversion grant program, is posted and will be updated regularly on the departments ITS web site: www.its.dot.gov.


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