Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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State looks to use technology to ease traffic troubles

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BATON ROUGE - Since most proposed fixes to solve Baton Rouge's traffic problems, like a new bridge or a loop are too costly, the state Department of Transportation and Development is looking at more affordable options like improving technology.

One example is signs on each side of the river providing drivers with estimated drive times over both the old and new bridge, as well as on other congested roads. Also in the works, an upgrade for DOTD's smart phone app that will give driver's updated drive times in real time. The agency says the use of Bluetooth technology will help them be more effective in predicting delays and rush hour backups.

"This is the first time this is happening in Louisiana," DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says. "It's a nice technology breakthrough for our state."

The route DOTD traffic engineers are plotting will use Bluetooth connections along Louisiana interstates to collect travel  data from smart phone users as they pass by. They hope to use that information to warn drivers sooner when there's a slowdown ahead.

"We're going to be able to read people's unique cell phone signals and be able to put real, live traffic times out there," Mallett told News 2's Brett Buffington.

The state points out that this will help update travel times on digital signs, as well as their app.

"We'll be able to see the back-up in those travel times immediately, and we'll be able to make alternate plans," Mallett explains. "We'll be able to use these message board signs to tell people to use an alternate route."

There is no official timeline for when the system will be up and running.

DOTD is having some trouble with technology this week. Electronic warning signs and traffic cameras along part of I-10 will be shutdown for at least a week because of constuction on Essen Lane.

Crews had to cut power, knocking DOTD's Intelligent Transportation System offline. ITS helps DOTD monitor traffic flow and respond to incidents quickly. The section of this system that's offline is from Essen to Sorrento on I-10 and Siegen Lane to Sorrento on Airline Highway.


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