IDOT Gives Free Real-Time Traffic Alerts

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that Chicago area commuters can now sign up for free, real-time traffic alerts from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

The new system at allows people to register for customized e-mail traffic reports providing travel times, vehicle speeds, construction work, congestion and incident information about 72 route segments on Chicago area expressways and suburban Tollways via e-mail, cell phone text messaging, or other mobile devices. Additional segments will be added pending completion of construction projects and other factors. The system is being launched in the Chicago area as part of IDOT’s ongoing congestion mitigation efforts.

When people register, they must:
Choose the segments of roadways they want to be alerted about.
Select the one or two times of day when they want to receive alerts.
Select the days of the week they want to receive alerts.
Select whether they want to customize alerts to receive them only if the average speed on the road is below a certain threshold.
Select the type of data they want to receive: incidents, construction, congestion reports and/or travel times.

The new system was developed in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Computer Science and its sub-contractor Delcan Corp. It can register up to 1,000 new users every 15 minutes, so IDOT officials caution that if demand for the new service is high, users may have to wait several hours if they encounter problems signing up for the system.

IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin, urged drivers not to read their hand-held devices while on the road.

In another congestion-relief effort, IDOT is teaming up with the RTA, CTA, Tollway, Pace, Metra and Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) on a marketing campaign dubbed: “drive less. live more.” designed to encourage use of mass transit and car pooling. The campaign is funded through a federal congestion mitigation grant of $1 million secured by IDOT.

Other congestion relief efforts on the state’s roadways include the Governor’s $5.3 billion Congestion-Relief Program on the Illinois Tollway system, called Open Roads for a Faster Future, which will reduce travel times by rebuilding/restoring 90 percent of the system, widening/adding lanes to many miles of existing roads, converting 20 mainline toll plazas to barrier-free Open Road Tolling, and extending I-355 south to I-80 in Will County. Open Road Tolling lanes are now available at 17 plazas.