Kaine on Transportation and Technology

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine voiced strong support for the application of information technology to solve Virginia’s transportation problems. Meeting with Northern Virginia congressmen and business leaders yesterday, he said, “We’re all committed to the notion that part of the answer to some our transportation challenges is going to be more effective use of technology.” Reports Leesburg Today:

“We shared with the executives the things that we already do with nearly a thousand sensors in the statewide system, significant traffic cameras, and how that information is available in the public,” Kaine said, mentioning the commonwealth’s 511 traffic information system. …

But the thing that these executives really put on the table was a strong marker [of what’s to come]: “Be committed to giving consumers the most information possible about traffic, alternate routes, traffic conditions, the length of time a particular trip is taking today so you can see if it’s too long and you can decide to go another way,” Kaine said, adding that the current information could be integrated and expanded to provide consumers a better package.

The kind of data that Kaine is talking about can be downloaded real-time to websites and cell phones. It won’t be long before it is integrated with navigation systems in peoples’ automobiles. As Virginia starts experimenting with congestion pricing (make sure to read next Monday’s edition of the e-zine), which uses variable tolls to encourage motorists to time-shift their commutes or take alternate transportation modes, it will be indispensable to have robust tools that tell drivers where the problems are.

I know that Kaine remains committed to raising taxes for transportation, but he deserves credit for working diligently also to make the existing system work more efficiently.

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One response to “Kaine on Transportation and Technology”

  1. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    I have very mixed feelings about Governor Kaine’s performance. He talks a much better game than he performs. But he does have some good ideas. Not requiring local governments to approve rezoning requests where the road system cannot handle them makes good sense. So does the use of information technology with transportation.

    Frank Wolf has been trying for years simply to get VDOT to synchronize traffic signals on Route 7 from Loudoun County to Tysons Corner. He’s even obtained federal seed money. But VDT cannot perform. (For some positive comments from me about VDOT, see “A Dog with Five Legs.” I call them the way I see them.) I’d like the Governor to jump in and see that this is done.

    VDOT needs to acquire real-time data about traffic conditions, deliver information to local governments and drivers, and make decisions based on that information. For example, if there’s an accident shutting down travel on I-66, VDOT information needs to reach the Highway Patrol, which, in turn, can dispatch officers to direct traffic.

    VDOT needs to move beyond simply being a builder of infrastructure to becoming a network manager. Tim Kaine’s head is in the right place. Now can he deliver results and not just offer ideas and ask for more money?

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