There’s an improved way to get Colorado travel information.
The Colorado Department of Transportation Thursday unveiled a new, improved version of its COTrip website. There’s also a new app for mobile users.
Department spokesperson Jared Fiel said the overhaul has been under development for months. The site also takes advantage of new, higher-speed internet connections along state highways.
Users are likely to first notice the clarity of highway cameras. Cameras on the old site generally had the resolution of bank-robbery photos seen on TV news. The new photos are crisp, clear and in color.
“A lot of times you can see an accident or construction site and know where it is,” Fiel said.
Those who frequently use the app will also notice a couple of handy upgrades.
Commuters or frequent travelers can put their regular trips into the site and receive real-time updates about accidents, construction or closures. Working with Google Maps, the site also provides turn-by-turn directions to virtually any address in the state.
The site also has more flexibility as a communications tool. Fiel said the old website was controlled primarily by the state’s traffic-monitoring stations. The stations can still make live updates, Fiel said, but the communications department can now access and modify the site.
There used to be a fixed number of messages, Fiel said. Now, those messages can be modified to suit specific situations — for example, “Don’t take a truck over Independence Pass.” In addition, communications with the old site were often written in traffic-speak, something not widely understood by the public. That’s going to be useful when explaining traction laws, Fiel said.
Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr said he believes better information can help travelers stay informed and could help ease congestion.
Scherr said he made a quick review of the site and it appears to localize the Google experience.
“It would have been interesting to see (the new site) during that disaster of a (Glenwood Canyon) closure,” Scherr said, adding he wonders if the Greyhound driver who stranded a busload of passengers up Coffee Pot Road in August might have taken a different route with better information.
The I-70 Coalition is a nonprofit organization that represents governments and businesses along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor.
Coalition director Margaret Bowes said at a glance the new site seems like an improvement over the old one.
“We’ve always said that getting good information in the hands of travelers is critical in their making choices,” Bowes said.
Access to instant information about road conditions and traffic helps drivers make wiser choices as they travel, she noted.
“I like the way it’s very visual,” Bowes said. “It’s an at-a-glance way to look at a trip.”
Bowes added she’s glad to see the transportation department back in the app business.
“A lot of people operate by app. It’s a good option to have,” she said.