Wyoming DOT joins states offering 511

News AASHTO Journal October 31, 2006
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The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has instituted 511 travel information service via telephone, joining the nationwide movement to supply such information through a single three-digit number. There also is an Internet version of the information, available at www.wyoroad.info.

"We're still working out a few remaining technical issues," said Vince Garcia, WYDOT spokesman. "But it's at a point where we the public can begin using and learning the new system, and we are already looking at future additions and improvements to the system."

Although WYDOT previously offered a telephone road report, its new 511 service includes a voice recognition function allowing callers to speak responses when prompted by the system, or alternatively to enter responses through the telephone keypad. The system will not go statewide immediately--some telephone companies in the state are still not on board--so WYDOT is maintaining its toll-free number, 888/WYO-ROAD for those not able to access 511 and for out-of-state callers.

Wyoming's new 511 system offers other advantages, including substantially increased call capacity, reducing the possibility of receiving a busy signal, even during major storms.

Callers will first hear about any road closures or advisories that are in effect. They then have the option of hearing a condition report for a road that they can specify by route number.

The use of the easily remembered three-digit 511 phone number to provide travel information was approved in July 2000 by the Federal Communications Commission. Since then, the 511 concept has grown rapidly; with Wyoming's entry, 29 systems in 24 states are now operational. The goal is to have 511 implemented nationwide by 2010.

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