I was going to wax poetic about some art today. I found you all some nice photography of crushed junk and industrial-type stuff (very cool), some interesting Soviet architecture sketches that were never built (but were no doubt effective tools of propaganda – if they had ever built these i would have been impressed) and even some edible art in the form of coffee sculpting (just look at the pictures, it’s totally not in english, or you can try reading the automated translation but it’s so bad i could only laugh/cry).
But then i started thinking about how today’s wednesday, and i only have 3 more days after today at this job, and then monday i start as a software tester downstairs (side note: woo hoo!). Now although i haven’t even cracked any of the books i’m supposed to be reading (i’ve been busy, ok? plus it’s been sunny out, and i have t-tops that need to come off regularly!) and i pretty much have zero idea what i’m getting myself into, i have obtained a nifty mug for my future desk and i’m plotting my commute strategy for monday and beyond. So i’m feeling pretty prepared.
So let’s talk traffic. We all know Seattle has issues; i’m not even going to go there. I don’t really mind it – it’s just part of living in an urban area – but then, i’m an off-hours commuter and have always been either a weird-time or weird-route driver, so i’ve never really experienced the joy that will be a 9-5 northend-to-downtown I-5 shuffle. Maybe 6 months from now you’ll mention “traffic” and i’ll shiver uncontrollably and my left eye will twitch.
Anyway, let’s not gripe about it; let’s look at some solutions. Now if you’ve been following along since, oh, the inception of this little digital diatribe, you can expect that my solutions are not going to involve (1) crummy tv news people or (2) listening to AM radio until ‘X’ minutes on the hour but rather will focus on things with batteries, or buttons, or monthly subscriptions to some sort of telco operator.
I’d seen the TrafficGauge a couple years ago, and for $50 upfront and $5 a month i could carry around a little PDA-sized gadget with live (4-minute delay) traffic status. Clear spots are good, blinky spots are bad. It also makes you aware of home games in the baseball, basketball, and football areas, although it makes no distinction between Husky and Hawks games, which i thought odd, as they affect traffic in completely different parts of the city. Overall, though, it seems like a nice, self-contained way to peep the slowdowns and pick a bridge. My personal verdict is “no”, however; the last thing i really need is another digital whatzit to fill my pockets and another monthly subscription, and because my real decision will be between I-5 and Hwy 99 and – although they do tout future plans – there is no 99 coverage yet.
TrafficGauge gets its data from the WSDOT, who generously provide it themselves in a snappy webpage that will probably become my new breakfast buddy. This map is super, with little links to the various road cameras and color-coded blockage indications. They’ve got all the major roads on there, plus what little bits of the secondary routes are monitored, and even specialty maps for things like the Canadian border crossing and (something i really like) the estimated travel times between key points on the spiderweb. I’ve noticed lately the WSDOT is putting this travel-time-calculation info to even greater use, erecting new timeframe signs on the freeway in seemingly random (but probably highly discussed in cloistered committee) places. They feel all european and stuff, and appropriate for a high-tech city with a progressive approach to transportion issues (you can feel free to cough “monorail”, “light rail”, “seatac”, or your choice of buzzwords here and snicker disapprovingly. it’s ok, we all do it).
I don’t use this one super often, but i like how condensed and informative it is: the I-90 traveler page hosted by UW. Not only is that elevation-adjusted road graph just neato, but compiling all the pass cams in there, too, makes me just feel all warm and fuzzy, even when the passes are snowy and blowy (blowy ?).
I know what you’re thinking: “I haven’t installed my StompBox in my car yet to check traffic with my new 17″ powerbook whilst in mid-commute! And i’m not cool with a $5/month debenture for a one-function PDA that lumps the approbatable Dawgs and the forgettable Seahawks into the same traffic-affecting category!” I totally agree. That’s why there’s Wiresoft‘s free WAP traffic reports. It’s the nifty WSDOT color map in a pint-sized (or, depending on your device, teaspoon-sized) WAP version! Punch this in with your thumb – “http://www.wiresoft.net/traffic/seattle/” – and enjoy! Yay! Something else to do with my phone while driving! 🙂