How you get the '511' on Richmond traffic

By Rick Brady - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The traffic page on keeps you updated on real time traffic incidents and emergencies, but where can you find information if you're planning a trip to the beach, or to the mountains? The answer is as easy as 5-1-1.

Before 511, trying to get any kind of travel or road information took phone call after phone call. Then in 1999, the Federal Communications Commission designated the three-digit 511 as the national traveler information number.

Like it's 911 counterpart, it became a more convenient way to get to the information that was needed. Virginia's 511 system got its start in 2000.

"We started the 511 system in the Shenandoah Valley in February of 2002," said  Jeff Caldwell, chief of communications for the Virginia Department of Transportation. "We then used that as a pilot project and eventually went statewide. And now the project, the system has turned into an integrated full-service system.

"So we have a website that is available for all motorists to do things like trip planning, traffic cameras, look at all construction and incidents and lane closures that are taking place in the state and plan any of their activities that they want to plan."

The 511 website is like one-stop shopping. You can find pretty much any information you need about traveling in the Commonwealth of Virginia. From updated traffic conditions statewide, safety tips, toll and bridge information and more.

"We also have a telephone system, which is just dailing 511 from any phone system in the state," Caldwell said. "We primarily encourage folks to use that when they are already on the road to find out what immediate incidents are in front of them on whichever road they are travelling."

Accessing 511 is easy - simply dial 5-1-1 from any cell phone or land line phone or access their website  at

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