SANDAG on Friday introduced a free app for San Diego region commuters that provides traffic alerts, transit schedules and, for the Interstate 15 corridor, predictions of traffic conditions up to an hour ahead.

The app and associated traffic management system for the I-15 were created with an $8.7 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration plus additional state money.

A traffic camera view in the iPhone version of the 511 app. Image courtesy SANDAG

The app is available free for iOS and Android devices in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

“People who download the 511 San Diego app, in effect, will have a crystal ball for traffic information,” said Poway Mayor Don Higginson, who announced the app at a press conference outside the Rancho Bernardo Transit Station as buses and freeway traffic whizzed past.

In addition to alerts and camera views, the app provides transit schedules and fares and FasTrak toll prices. A text-to-speech feature makes the app safe to use while driving.

For the I-15 corridor, the app can also predict travel times, using the Integrated Corridor Management, or ICM, system set up with the federal and state grants. The system integrates data from a variety of sources.

“This system…can take both real-time and historical data to predict what will happen,” said SANDAG’s James Dreisbach-Towle, principal technology program manager. “The whole idea of the ICM is to keep your trip reliable day-in, day-out.”

Rick Backlund, associate division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration, said providing the traveling public with sophisticated information is an alternative to “building and building and building our way out of congestion.” He said people can chose whether to drive, carpool or take transit based on the app’s predictions.

The I-15 segment is one of two national pilot programs for the ICM concept. The other is in Dallas. Planners hope to extend corridor management to all major highways in the San Diego region.

To encourage travelers to download the app, SANDAG is offering prize drawings via the app for the next ten weeks.

SANDAG is the regional planning agency for San Diego County and its 18 cities.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.