Goal of www.paturnpike.com makeover: Better-informed motorists.
HARRISBURG, PA. (Aug. 31, 2006) — Just in time for the heavily traveled Labor Day weekend, Pennsylvania Turnpike officials today unveiled a major overhaul of the Turnpike’s internet presence. The improved site, www.paturnpike.com, features multiple upgrades to make navigation easier and help to better inform Turnpike motorists before — and even during — their trips. The site now receives some 565,000 hits per day on average, a number the Turnpike expects will jump in light of the enhancements.
“The web site has an exciting, new look, and you’ll still find everything you’ve come to expect from our site – plus much, much more,” said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. “Perhaps most exciting is a new Interactive Web Map, an amazing tool that gives a quick, easy view of conditions across all 531 miles of Turnpike.”
Brimmeier said the new Interactive Web Map displays real-time information on traffic and weather conditions statewide – and presents current camera images of the roadway to help motorists plan ahead. Multiple live web cams provide glimpses of the Turnpike’s busiest interchanges. Web-cam views of the major Turnpike work zones across the commonwealth are also available under the Construction Projects heading.
The web map separates the state into four distinct regions. By clicking onto a specific region, travelers can view multiple layers of relevant travel information. Some of the critical information on the map includes active incident scenes, current construction activity, any detours in effect and areas experiencing severe weather. A roadway traffic flow graphic on the map depicts the speed at which traffic is moving in a given area. Traffic flows are color coded: green is free flowing, yellow is congested, red is stop-and-go traffic, and black represents a closed lane or lanes. General information under each region includes service-plaza locations and food concepts offered at each plaza as well as interchange locations with the connecting routes.
In addition, an improved “Preferred Traveler” service can alert motorists to conditions that might impact their travels. The free service allows motorists to receive e-mails or mobile phone text messages about accidents, delays or bad weather along a specific Turnpike corridor. The corridor is customizable according to which section of toll road each motorist uses — even what time of day he or she normally travels. To sign up for the service, click on the “Preferred Traveler,” icon on the home page.
“Imagine being notified on your cell phone of bad weather or construction delays ahead,” Brimmeier said. “You can decide if you want to continue, take a detour, or make other plans.”
Brimmeier said the enhanced internet functionality is a direct result of a renewed commitment to technology spending under way at the Turnpike Commission for several years now.
“We made a commitment to deploy the best technology to enhance our customers’ travels; over the past several years, we’ve been automating the Turnpike with intelligent sensors and cameras that feed information to our operations center so we can better manage the highway and improve incident response,” Brimmeier said. “Now, we’ve made that data stream available to the public with the Preferred Traveler Program and Interactive Web Map — two vital tools that tell you what’s happening on the Turnpike virtually as it unfolds.”
According to Voicenet Inc., Philadelphia — the technology-services firm selected by the Turnpike to design and host the new web presence — the technological model that drives www.paturnpike.com combines the best automated devices and human knowledge to create the site’s cutting-edge technology.
“The intelligent-roadways concept is the wave of the future, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has made a major commitment to this concept,” said Voicenet President Carmen DiCamillo. “Using roadway sensors and human intelligence to maintain up-to-the-minute data on highway conditions and incidents benefits everyone. Travelers are forewarned of weather problems and accidents, service personnel can deploy the appropriate resources and emergency services can provide help faster and with more awareness of incident specifics.”
Labor Day Travel Information…
Turnpike officials expect approximately 2.2 million vehicles will take to the toll road this weekend. As a result, some Turnpike construction and maintenance activities will be suspended so the maximum number of lanes can be open to traffic. Road-work that does not impact travel lanes will continue behind protective barriers in certain areas, reducing shoulder widths. Drivers should remain alert and cautious in these areas. Road-work restrictions start Thursday, Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. and will be effective through Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 6 a.m.
“Additional State Police Troopers will be on duty this weekend strictly enforcing the traffic laws,” said Pa. State Police Cpl. Richard Dean. “Troopers will be looking for aggressive drivers and speeders, and special emphasis will be given to enforcing the state’s seatbelt and child-safety-restraint laws. In order to save lives, we are asking everyone to buckle-up and drive responsibly.”
Turnpike maintenance crews and safety patrols will also monitor the highway, ready to assist travelers in case of an accident or breakdown. Those who witness an accident or need assistance should use emergency call boxes located at one-mile intervals along the roadway. For emergency purposes, motorists with cell phones can reach the Turnpike’s operations center by dialing *11 or 1-800-332-3880.
“Due to the increased volume of traffic on the Turnpike this weekend, we ask that drivers use extra caution,” said Brimmeier. “Please help us make this a safe and enjoyable end-of-the-summer celebration.”
Brimmeier reminded holiday travelers that Labor Day weekend is the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the ease and convenience of E-ZPass. “If you’ve not yet become an E-ZPass member, please take a moment to join now,” Brimmeier said. “You can enroll online by clicking on the purple E-ZPass logo. The enrollment process is quick and easy. Once you get E-ZPass, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.”