Minnesota DOT’s 511 system adds real-time road condition cameras

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways November 9, 2015 14:57

Minnesota DOT’s 511 system adds real-time road condition cameras

An image from one of MnDOT’s Road Weather Information Stations

Motorists driving throughout Minnesota this winter will benefit from the addition of cameras displaying real-time photos of road conditions from 92 locations to help them plan their travel. These camera locations are in addition to the more than 800 traffic cameras already displayed on Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT’s) 511 system.

The Road Weather Information Stations or RWIS are located along state roads and interstates. The stations are used by MnDOT’s maintenance crews but now the public also can take advantage of the live rotating camera shots. Various weather data is also available with the photos.

“RWIS is perfect for Greater Minnesota, where camera images were lacking in the past,” said Kelly Braunig, 511 program manager. “Seeing is believing, so the photos will help motorists know what the road conditions are for where they are travelling.”

The RWIS are among several recent enhancements to the 511 system. Other updates are:

  • Metro traffic map – Uses Google Speed technology to show congestion levels caused by crashes, closures, construction and maintenance projects within the Twin Cities metro area. Users can zoom in to specific incidents or events. This feature can be viewed by clicking on the quick link “Metro Traffic Map” on the left side of the full-featured version of the 511 website.
  • Greater Minnesota traffic speeds – Uses Google Speed technology to show congestion levels along Minnesota highways. Users can zoom in and out to specific cities. Users can view this by turning on the “Traffic Speeds” layer from the dropdown list on the full-featured version of the 511 website.
  • Weather warnings – Show warnings imported from National Weather Service sites. The warnings are displayed as a shaded overlay on top of the full-featured version of the 511 website in the areas that are affected. These warnings reinforce the message about the road condition report. For example, if a blizzard warning is issued for St. Louis County, a user would see that county shaded along with a weather warning icon. The user might also see “completely covered” or “travel not advised” road conditions in that area. This feature is available year-round and also shows severe storm, flash flood, high wind and tornado warnings.
  • Traffic delays – Is a Google Speed feature that recognizes when there is a backup due to an existing traffic event on 511. The events are highlighted with an orange glow. Clicking on the glowing icon will show details about how long a delay is expected. This is available only on interstates statewide.
  • 511 smartphone app – Shows a detour route as a blue line. Detours can also be seen on the 511 website. This feature is available statewide.

“These improvements will give users more quality information,” said Braunig. “The more information we can give the public, the better chance they have to make good decisions on their travel.”

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways November 9, 2015 14:57