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Beat the Traffic: Travel times now available on west Houston streets

by Katherine Whaley / 11 News

Posted on March 24, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 24 at 3:40 PM

HOUSTON -- When you hit the road, it can be difficult to tell which route will be fastest. Now, a new tool released by the City of Houston is taking some of the guess work out of planning your commute.

Jeffrey Weatherford from Houston Public Works and Engineering is the man behind a new machine at fifty west Houston intersections which reads driver speeds from Bluetooth devices you carry in your car.

"So when a device passes point A and then passes point B, the system calculates the time it took to travel that... it knows the distance, so it can calculate an approximate speed," Weatherford said.

And that color-coded speed is displayed on Houston Transtar's website, so you can determine which path to take.

For sales representative Jennifer Garcia, time lost in traffic is money lost out of her paycheck, so she uses the technology to help her avoid trouble spots.

"There are days I have been in traffic longer than I have bene out selling," she told 11 News.

Garcia hits the streets every day, but now, before she gets behind the wheel, she maps her route using information from the Transtar website.

"If I see the red lines on the road, they're going pretty slow and I decide ok, I am just going to wait another twenty minutes or take a different route," she explained.

With a price tag of $50,000, the technology covers 62 square miles of west Houston. It serves four employment centers: Uptown Houston, Memorial City, The Energy Corridor, and Westchase.

The information is free to access, and it's right at your fingertips. You can also use your mobile device access all of the real time road information while you are away from your computer.

The system updates every 20 seconds, and for Garcia, it's saving minutes when she travels around town.

"Having a tool like this is great because I can just pull it up if I am stuck in traffic and be like, oh there must be something going on here... and take a different route," she said.

City of Houston officials say they are looking into expanding the technology into other parts of the City.

To view,click here.