I had breakfast this a.m. with Larry Nelson, the owner of www.trafficland.com. Larry started his business years ago, at the outset of the IT age. His initial headquarters was in Fairfax City, a few blocks from my house.
At his invitation, I visited one snowy day six years ago and was blown away by the technology. Essentially, Larry’s website puts VDOT camera feeds on-line so that a commuter can browse the major highways in Fairfax County (66, 495, 95) and view real-time traffic conditions. He does this through a state contract which allows him to share information to the tax-paying public.
Since that initial visit, Larry’s company has gone statewide (with feeds in Richmond, Tidewater, and 81 corridor), as well as national (major cities across U.S.) It represents the new wave of private companies partnering with government to solve our traffic problems.
I like the website for its micro application (telling me whether to drive or take Metro) and its macro application (managing regional traffic flow). Throughout the 2007 campaign, we talked about using technology — not just tax dollars — to solve our transportation issues. This is example A.
There is no better investment of our transportation tax dollar than in expanding these technologies to enable “smarter” usage of our roadways. VDOT has the technology to make it happen, whether its traffic cameras or road sensors (which are already collecting traffic data). We need to commit to expanding access to all our Virginia residents, as well as out-of-staters that use our roadways.
One of my principal goals in the next two years will be to expand this capability along key arterials in the 34th Senate District such as Braddock Road, Little River Turnpike, Arlington Boulevard, Leesburg Pike and Maple Avenue. We need to wire these roadways to give “real time” info to Fairfax drivers, so they can make better decision about when (and when not) to drive.
It’s not as exciting as a big tax increase, but it may actually be more effective.