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Oakland County road map shows traffic jams in real time

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 30, 2015

Photo courtesy of www2.rcocweb.org

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OAKLAND COUNTY — Motorists have a new real-time online weapon as they battle construction, congestion and closures.


The Road Commission for Oakland County has updated the FAST-TRAC Real-Time Traffic Map to include traffic jams as they are happening for most of the major county roadways, along with information provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over freeways.


The map uses the Road Commission’s FAST-TRAC traffic signal system to capture and display real-time traffic congestion information.


Faster and Safer Travel Through Routing and Advanced Controls, or FAST-TRAC, technology involves video cameras at intersections that detect vehicles approaching. The cameras continuously analyze traffic flow and transmit the information to a computer in a control box at the intersection. That device sends the information to a regional computer, which adjusts the traffic signal to match the traffic flow. Seven regional computers are connected to a central management computer in the Road Commission’s Traffic Operations Center.


The technology was first installed in the early 1990s and has now been installed in Commerce Township, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Rochester Hills, Southfield, Troy and West Bloomfield.


Craig Bryson, public information officer for the Road Commission, explained that the traffic map was first launched in a much different form on the commission’s website in 1999 and was the first real-time map for nonfreeway roads in the U.S.


The updates to the map make it easier to view and faster to download to computers and smartphones.


The map connects with MDOT traffic cameras, message signs and construction alerts.


Bryson said there is no separate app, but the map can be accessed via a smartphone’s browser, then saved as a favorite; the update makes the map adaptive to all different screen sizes.


“This map is an ideal tool to use to identify potential issues affecting travel time, such as construction zones in the summer and weather-related issues during the winter,” Road Commission Managing Director Dennis Kolar said in a prepared statement.


Map colors indicate congestion levels, and construction projects are denoted by an orange triangle. People can click on the triangle icon to get information about the project. The message sign feature provides information on lane closures, travel times, notifications of possible lane closures due to accidents, and weather-related travel information.


For example, congested roadways are indicated in red, moderate traffic is marked in orange, light traffic is in yellow, and very light traffic is green.


“The adaptive traffic signals are collecting data all the time,” Bryson said. “The goal was to share data more effectively with the public so they more effectively choose their route.”


The map is available at www2.rcocweb.org.

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