New 'Travel Time Signs' meant to give Austin-area drivers options

Most of those familiar green road signs just tell you how to get places, new TXDOT "Travel Time Signs" will actually tell you how long it will take you to get there and which route you should take.

"The signs use Bluetooth readers and also roadway sensors.  And based off of that it's going to feed in the travel time back into a wireless remote which is then displayed on the travel signs," said Kelli Reyna, a TXDOT spokesperson.

Three Travel Time Signs were activated at 6 A.M. Tuesday morning. They're placed along I-35 in Georgetown, Round Rock and Buda.

The digital read-out tells you how long it will take to get to San Marcos if you were to take I-35 vs. how long it takes to use Toll 130. Basically giving drivers options.

"Anybody who has traveled on I-35 knows the level of congestion that we see.  In fact it's the number one most congested road in the State of Texas.  Our goal is to use technology to try to help people to make an informed decision," Reyna said.

The data is in real time.  So the numbers changed several times in the 10 minutes we were standing next to the Georgetown sign.  At that time, it took about 5 minutes longer to take the toll road than it did to take 35.

Of course, that may be a different story during peak hours.

"Morning peak hour traffic, it takes you 30% longer to travel on I-35 than it does during non-peak hours.  If nothing is done on I-35, by 2035 it's going to take you 200% longer to travel the same distance," Reyna said.

Mark Kupec is hopeful about the idea.

"If it actually works, it'd be nice.  I use 130 all the time anyway.  I try to stay off of 35 as much as possible," he said.

Even if that means shelling out the toll fees.

"I mean I don't like the cost but time is money," he said.

Rolland Duzan delivers pizza so he's frequently on 35. And that's the way he likes it.

"My personal opinion, I would rather take 35 over the toll road because if you get backed up on the toll road, you're going to be backed up and stopped.  And on 35 you have options to get around traffic," Duzan said.

By the way the signs were funded through a $250,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration.