511 redesigned to better assist travelers

LogoGetting around Iowa safely, efficiently, and conveniently and during the busiest construction season in history could be a bit of a challenge, but finding the traffic information you need during the summer travel season is now easier than ever. The Iowa Department of Transportation recently revamped its full-feature 511 traveler information website available by clicking the “full featured” button on Sinclair Stolle, the Iowa DOT’s 511 project manager, said, “This is the first major update to our full featured website since 2008. The first thing people may notice is how quickly the site loads. The new site allows users to choose just the details that matter to them."

The new full-feature 511 website allows users to customize the information they want to see and bookmark the customized view with a unique URL.  When you first access the site, the default Travel-At-A-Glance landing page shows icons for all things that may impact travel, as well as current and future construction projects.

TG-Web Launch - Bookmarkable URL

TG-Web Launch - 4-30-15To adjust the content of the page for your specific needs, click on the “layers” button on the upper left of the landing page. You can select any combination of available options:

  • Incidents: crashes, flooding and other unplanned events
  • Construction: planned construction and maintenance events
  • Winter driving – DOT: winter road condition reports by DOT staff updated as conditions change
  • Winter driving – citizen (crowd sourced): winter road condition reports by our citizen reporters
  • Weather warnings: weather warnings (tornado, blizzard, severe thunderstorm, etc…) from the National Weather Service
  • Towing prohibited (winter): County-wide events which prohibit towing service providers from removing vehicles in ditches or the median (unless they are causing a hazard) until the event is lifted.
  • Traffic speeds: traffic speeds provided by Google
  • Cameras: camera images and video (where available) from our DOT traffic and RWIS cameras.
  • Electronic signs: messages displayed on our dynamic message signs including travel times in some metro areas.
  • Rest areas: locations and amenities for Rest Areas, Welcome Centers and Parking Only locations around the state 
  • Other states’ info: links to traveler information websites of surrounding states

Stolle said, “Most of these layers were available on the previous version of the full-featured 511 website, but the difference now is that you can turn on just the layers you want to see and save that version so you won’t need to customize the site each time you visit.”

TG-Web Launch - LegendClicking on the “legend” button in the lower right corner brings up an explanation of the icons you see on the map. This legend will change depending on the layers that are selected.

This time of year the construction layer will contain the most information. Current shoulder or lane closure information is indicated by yellow diamond shapes. Complete road or bridge closures are shown as red circles. Future construction project information can be found by clicking on the blue boxes with white numbers. The number on the box indicates the start date of the project.

TG-Web Launch - Future Events

If you have a specific route you know you’ll be traveling, you can search just that route for available traveler information. To access your routes, click on the “Personalize your 511” link in the menu bar on the left side of the page. If you already have a 511 account, simply log in. If you’re new to the personalization features, create an account by choosing “Get started”.  If you'd like to get alerts via email and/or text message, you can select the time of day and day of week you'd like alerts on your saved routes. When a new traffic incident is added on the route you’ve selected, you’ll receive an email and/or text alert with that information.

TG-Web Launch - Events Along Your Route

In choosing your route, you can either zoom to a place by entering a route number or city name. The map will zoom to the location that was entered and show a list of reports near that area. You can save that route by clicking on the "Save this area/route" next to the yellow star at the bottom of the list of events. You can also click the three horizontal lines and then click "Save this area/route".

Sharing information on social media and email is another updated feature on the new 511 website. When you click on an icon, a box opens with the more detailed information for that traffic event. In the upper right of that box is a “share” button to allow users to send the information via email or share to Facebook or Twitter. TG-Web Launch - Share

Stolle said, “The 511 website exists to help people traveling in Iowa. We’re always working to make it better and more user-friendly. If you have comments or questions about the site, please submit them using the “contact” button on the site’s top menu bar.”


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