Technology battles gridlock |

Technology battles gridlock

With Highway 50’s having become one of the more heavily congested highways in the state, a Web site and telephone number have been established allowing motorists to track the flow of traffic along the route from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe.

The frustration of being locked in stop-and-go traffic without knowing when congestion will clear up prompted a group of government agencies to collaborate on the road communication effort.

Calling itself 50, the group last week launched its “real time” up-to-the-minute traffic information for Highway 50 drivers with the help of a Web site ( and a toll free telephone number 800-266-6883.

“From South Lake Tahoe to El Dorado Hills, Highway 50 is our lifeline that links us together,” said Rebecca Garrison, spokeswoman for 50 “This service brings us one step closer to establishing a Highway 50 corridor community as improving mobility all along Highway 50.”

Through an intricate network of speed sensors embedded inside pavement, information on the average rate of speed in both directions is fed to a computer and posted on the Internet. The sensors go as far as the El Dorado Hills area, in both directions of travel.

Plans for more sensor installments to the Lake Tahoe region are dependent on future road construction projects along the highway, Garrison said.

Where the sensors stop picking up traffic flow, telephone communication begins. With the help of Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol, up-to-the minute information is fed to the phone line.

These two communication tools will provide commuters with information they can use ahead of time, before they even get in their cars, Garrison said.

“For a person in South Lake Tahoe, the information they get on the Web might be old by the time they reach the Sacramento region,” she said. “That’s where the telephone number comes in handy.”

For those without Internet access, the traffic hotline is available with service representatives on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Commuters should call the 800 number and press 3 for the latest construction activities, accidents and traffic speeds.

The choices people make based on this new information will ease congestion and allow motorists to use the roadways more efficiently, said 50 Project Manager Muriel Johnson.

“This is the next generation of traffic management,” Johnson said. “By providing commuters real time information, they can make choices about what time and what route to travel to and from work.”

Partners in 50 include the Sacramento County Department of Transportation, El Dorado County Department of Transportation, El Dorado Transportation Commission, Caltrans, Sacramento Regional Transit, Folsom, Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

— Jeff Munson may be reached at

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