Kansas City Scout


Monday, April 19, 2010

Work Zone Awareness Week

Posted by Nancy Powell,

Traffic Management Center Supervisor

Kansas City traffic has a rhythmic pattern not unlike its musical roots of blues and jazz. Morning and evening rush hours carry the melody while work zones and lane closures provide varying interludes. From Scout's perspective, the patterns are easily discernable. Traffic System Operators anticipate the changing rhythms and are attuned to detect subtle differences in flow and pattern with the use of sophisticated software tools and trained eyes.

This week all eyes are on the many Work Zones scattered throughout the Metro area. It's spring and that means it's Orange Barrel season! And not just within the city limits of Kansas City. Throughout the country, twenty-five Departments of Transportation are recognizing April 19th through 23rd as "Work Zone Awareness Week." Over 700 people died in highway work zone accidents in the U.S. during 2009 including workers and occupants of vehicles with inattentive drivers behind the wheel.

The sad truth is that these are preventable deaths. Distraction caused by cell phone use while driving is on the rise, especially among younger, less experienced drivers. Be mindful of the messages posted to alert that a Work Zone is in progress. Slow down and stay alert. Let's not be singing the blues this time next year! Get jazzed about attentive driving!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Day in the Life of...

Posted by Nancy Powell, Traffic Management Center Supervisor

Those of us who work at KC Scout encounter the same road conditions as those we aim to serve. Friday, April 2nd's fierce thunderstorm came on with a fury and wrecked havoc throughout the metro area. I was enroute to the Traffic Management Center around 9:40 AM in my VW bug with the window open less than an inch and was startled when a fat rain drop bulls eyed my eye and dislodged my contact. Then I felt the wind roar up and thought my cloth roof was about to be shredded. I was crossing over I-470 at the time and gripped the wheel tighter as my little car shook violently. Within two minutes I was in the MoDOT parking lot and under siege by straight line winds and torrential rain.

During the next fifteen minutes, three semi tractor trailers would be tipped over like Matchbox trucks, tossed by an angry toddler. Power lines were knocked down throughout the city, police and fire dispatch radios were putting out call after call, maintenance crews were being dispatched on reports of road debris, and Scout's operators were managing it all with focus and efficiency. The views on the cameras mirrored the weather radar as the storm raged its way across our seven metro interstates.

It's on mornings like this that I take great pride in working for Scout. Our incident messaging and web alerts kept motorists informed. When things finally calmed down, I said, "well, that was a wild ride..." and operators at the consoles glanced up at me and smiled, as I stood there dripping wet, marveling at their competence. Some days are better than others. That Friday was exceptional!