The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is updating its Traffic Tracker tool to provide traffic counts for the previous five years in order to expand the available information and provide better context to those making use of the data.
The Traffic Tracker was launched in March, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit Idaho. It was designed to track the acute, day-to-day changes in traffic patterns across the state. This information was helpful to businesses, healthcare providers, and emergency managers in understanding the impacts of lockdown. As time went by, trends emerged and the detailed data became unwieldy and unhelpful, according to ITD.
The update, launched this week, draws from the same automatic traffic recorders as the original tool. Now, however, the data is averaged to monthly counts and plotted alongside the previous five years of data.
“We have been tracking this data for years now,” Margaret Pridmore, ITD Roadway Data Manager, said in a statement. “This is information we’ve been gathering into reports for ITD executives and the Governor’s Office. With the innovation of the original traffic tracker interface, we’re now able to make this data readily available to the general public. It’s a great step in increasing transparency and providing helpful information to the people we serve.”
With a monthly comparison year over year, the information puts into context the broader impact of the pandemic on travel across Idaho. There has been a steady increase in traffic the last five years due to the growth of the state and a booming economy. Those numbers took a nose dive in March and April, quickly rebounding in May. Currently, average travel volumes are still slightly lower than previous years, but the trend is increasing, and there are some notable exceptions.
“We’re seeing record travel to remote areas of the state, such as the Central Mountains,” Pridmore said. “Boise County in particular is seeing more vehicles on Idaho Highways 55 and 21. It is a sign of people getting out of denser population centers during the pandemic.”
SOURCE: Idaho Transportation Department