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INSIDE LOOK: The nerve center of tracking traffic throughout the state of Wisconsin

The idea is to help drivers with road conditions, construction and crashes. A
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Posted at 3:44 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 19:17:55-05

MILWAUKEE — As a winter storm approaches, a centralized location in Milwaukee monitors all the traffic and road conditions in Wisconsin. It is called the traffic management center and it is run by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Traffic Operations.

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Brent Bowgren, supervisor of the traffic management center control room, monitors road conditions.

“We are in the middle of the traffic management center. You will see on both sides of us there are traffic operators and they are monitoring traffic throughout the state,” said Randy Hoyt, supervisor at the WisDOT state traffic management unit.

The idea is to help drivers with road conditions, construction and crashes. And when there is an incident, like a car that went into a ditch, the traffic management center jumps in to help law enforcement.

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Randy Hoyt, supervisor at the WisDOT state traffic management unit

"It doesn't look like they are hit as best as I can tell,” said Brent Bowgren, supervisor of the traffic management center control room.

"We utilize 423 cameras throughout the state,” said Hoyt.

The Wisconsin State Patrol Dispatch also sits in this room. So whenever a crash happens, if law enforcement is not on scene but someone has called 911, the traffic management center gets that information and tries to find the crash on their cameras to help police before they get to the scene.

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Brent Bowgren, supervisor of the traffic management center control room

"We are able to show camera feeds and we can drop that into dispatch. And even law enforcement can look at their computer in the field and see what the situation is before they arrive,” said Hoyt.

Police can also request the video to get a better idea of what led up to the crash for their investigation. What WisDOT cannot do is issue tickets for things they see on the cameras. That is against Wisconsin law.

"If the operators witness something on camera that looks like a drunk driver or someone aggressively driving, we will report that to State Patrol,” said Hoyt.

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Inside the traffic management center and it is run by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, bureau of traffic operations.

What they can do is warn drivers of things that could be dangerous. Through the message boards on the expressway, they can alert others if a wrong-way driver enters the freeway, if there is a crash or if a lane is closed, among other things.

"The whole intent of this room is traveler safety. And everything we do in here is predicated on making it as safe as possible for travelers in Wisconsin,” said Hoyt.

If you want information on road conditions, you can call 511 or go to 511wi.gov. If you are already on the road, WisDOT says it has a partnership with the travel app Waze. That app gets updates directly from WisDOT on road conditions.

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