PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) The South Dakota Department of Transportation is working on improvements to the state’s Safe Travel USA website, which offers important travel information year-round. Prior to the start of the winter season, the DOT is adding 11 more “Environmental Sensor Stations” across the state—towers which hold equipment to monitor conditions. The small towers also have cameras to give website visitors a birds-eye look at what the weather is like at that spot. Right now the state has 34 stations, plus cameras are also mounted in Dynamic Message Signs along both interstate highways in South Dakota. Dave Huft, Research Program Manager for the SDDOT says the 11 new cameras are going up this summer in locations that haven’t had them in the past.
In addition to new locations, the cameras on the existing sensor stations will be upgraded to “pan, tilt, zoom” cameras which will allow the new high resolution devices to take several different views, including a look at the roadway surface. The cameras will cycle from one pre-set location to another and the images will update every ten minutes. Also, new infra-red illuminators will be put on cameras that aren’t in well-lit locations to allow images to be captured at night.
Huft says the market research shows that a majority of South Dakota residents use the Safe Travel USA website or call the 5-1-1 travel information line for information on roads in the winter. He says most feel the camera features on the Safe Travel USA site are helpful in planning winter travel.
Plans call for the DOT to add at least 13 more Environmental Sensor Stations in South Dakota in 2013. Huft says in the winter of 2011-2012; usage of the 5-1-1 and Safe Travel website systems were down because of the mild weather, but the winter before saw the most visitors ever, as Mother Nature brought more challenging conditions. Find South Dakota’s travel information at http://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/ and to look at camera views across the state, click on the words “Statewide Camera List” in the upper right hand corner of the page.
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