BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation has a new tool it hopes will help predict traffic problems and keep drivers informed of trouble spots during the August eclipse.
Peter Murphy, with ODOT, says the Iteris software uses cell phone data to determine how long it takes to travel from one point to another in the few days before and after August 21. "We don’t get the information ourselves; we get it from a third party. But, basically, your cell phone is always on; once you turn your power on, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking or not, your cell phone is always transmitting. What we do is we get the metadata information and it tells us what the traffic travel speed or time is between Point A and Point B." He tells KBND News, "We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best; that’s all we can do. As a responsible agency, you have to look out there and give it your best shot about what’s going to happen. And, right now, we think traffic volumes are going to double, and that’s already on top of a record year of traffic."
Iteris is already used elsewhere in the state, but Murphy says it hasn’t been needed locally until now. "A really important place to watch traffic speeds and time is between Bend and Madras. Well, we have a software program that will tell us, within 15 minutes how fast that traffic is going. Then, we can pass that information out to motorists via social media, traditional media, or Tripcheck.com." Murphy says the system doesn’t collect personal information but can track those travel times in quarter of a mile segments.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors expected in Central Oregon, he says, "We want people to come here and experience this eclipse in the best way possible. We know there’s going to be a big influx of them. We’re going to be out there in the field, we’re going to be staffed up at the office, we’re going to be giving real time travel time and travel speed information to motorists and that’s what we can do to help motorists make informed decisions."
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.