Reader sought radio, email traffic alerts during truck incident

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Three communication outlets were not discussed in your article either of which would have saved me an hour wasted in trying to travel from Capitola to the west side of Santa Cruz just after noon that Monday. I work online at home and a message distributed by RTC to its email lists would have alerted me as would a message distributed by the County Parks & Recreation people. Once I was in my car, I relied on local radio and heard nothing, even during news broadcasts. I made three U-turns to get out of gridlocked lines in my attempt to travel west. Each time I thought the obstruction was just at the head of the queue, I was stuck. So I tried an alternative route not suspecting ALL routes were gridlocked. At one point, I wondered about a natural disaster so I turned on the car radio without success. Finally, I realized I had to abandon my trip to the west side in order to have lunch before a 2 p.m. doctor's appointment. It was only when I slowly reached my lunch destination at Capitola and Soquel was I able to speak to someone who explained the situation. The good news is that my daughter's cat was not too ornery having to wait an extra four hours for her daily feeding! Bill Delaney, Capitola A: The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission staff meet regularly with Caltrans and CHP “to evaluate how existing notification systems are performing during incidents and where improvements might be made,” said Tegan Speiser, of the agency's Commute Solutions program. The cement truck incident and suggestions for improvements will be the topic of discussion at their next meeting,” she said. Your feedback will be considered as commission staff appreciate the community's feedback on the “value of 'pushing out' information to people in a timely way so that they can make more informed travel decisions,” Speiser said, while noting that the cement truck incident highlighted the need for a comprehensive program to communicate with commuters, such as the proposed 511 Traveler Information System. “A key reason the RTC is exploring setting up a 511 traveler information system for the region is to have one centralized place that travelers could rely upon to get real time information about traffic conditions on our roadways,” said Speiser. “The traffic snarl from the cement truck incident last week points out again how helpful a 511 system would be for our region.” The commission is weighing the benefits and costs of providing such a program, which includes “an alert system that would notify subscribers when a major incident occurs somewhere along their usual route,” she said. Your town of Capitola has such an alert system in place, Speiser added. Go to www.nixle.com to sign up for mobile phone, email or over the web alerts from the Capitola Police Department, which used the system to alert subscribers about the cement truck incident, she said. While the article listed mobile phone apps available for real time traffic information, Caltrans has a travel alert hotline at 1-800-427-7623.
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