Sunday, March 2, 2003

Artimis is a bright spot



By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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In the old days, Tristate drivers could only imagine why traffic was stopped and going nowhere. Today, 80 highway cameras allow motorists to check road conditions online before they ever leave home.

Six years after Greater Cincinnati became one of the first cities in the nation to experiment with "smart" transportation technology, the award-winning programs of ARTIMIS are the bright spots of daily driving life:

• Current views of traffic are captured on 80 closed-circuit, TV cameras mounted over key roads. Footage is available to the public 24 hours a day on the ARTIMIS Web site (www.artimis.org) .

"People use them to check the weather, and people who don't live here anymore use them just to see what's going on," program manager Scott Evans says.

• Forty overhead, highway message signs tell drivers about accidents, congestion and alternative routes. The fewest words are used. Sometimes no message is preferable. For example, messages may not be posted during heavy rainfalls on the theory that drivers don't need any more distractions.

• In partnership with CVS drugstores, five vans patrol the interstates offering motorist assistance on weekdays. Drivers are certified mechanics and trained emergency medical technicians.

"Probably the only negative thing we've heard is that we should have more vans," Evans says.

ARTIMIS is short for Advanced Regional Traffic Interactive Management & Information System. It's funded through the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

E-mail mdowns@enquirer.com




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