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Know when to go: New data helps predict summer holiday traffic jams in Colorado

Posted at 7:31 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 22:35:59-04

A new way to avoid traffic jams during busy summer holiday weekends in Colorado is in the works. The innovation is thanks to enterprising Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) staffers here in Southern Colorado. They have come up with a way to leverage current technology.

“Myself and a traffic engineer sat down and said how do we get the word out to folks that they need to plan ahead just like they do in the winter months,” said CDOT’s Michelle Peulen, They want to provide information to help drivers plan in advance the best and worst times to travel during busy holiday weekends.

Car counters are not standard on Southern Colorado roads. Instead technology like cell phones and other tech devices put out signals. It offers a resource showing how fast or slow traffic is moving, “It calculates what speeds are, so we looked at last year’s Memorial Day weekend which is the best crystal ball we have for predicting what this year’s Memorial Day will be.” Collecting and comparing data showing traffic at its slowest, can equate to heavy traffic.

Memorial Day 2018 on Highway 24 going west out of Colorado Springs, shows traffic starting to slow around noon on the Friday before the holiday weekend. It hist its slowest speeds mid-afternoon. Data like this offers a way to show times drivers might want to avoid. It offers likely precedent for drivers to consider for the same day in 2019.

“Less congestion enhances safety on the roads,” said Peulen. Along with safety the information offers convenience for drivers wanting to avoid time sitting in traffic jams.

The new information will be in addition to real time traffic information on the COTRIP.ORG website and app.