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Federal Highway Chief Schimmoller Places Landmark First Call to “511” in Kentucky

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Vincent F. Schimmoller

Federal Highway Chief Schimmoller Places Landmark First Call to “511” in Kentucky

Federal Highway Administration
June 11, 2001

Monday, June 11, 2001
Contact: Susan Slye
Tel.: 202-366-1068
FHWA 23-01

Federal Highway Administration Deputy Executive Director Vincent F. Schimmoller today joined Kentucky Gov. Paul E. Patton in placing the nation’s historic first telephone call to 511 – America’s traveler information telephone number.

Schimmoller commended the citizens of the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky metropolitan area for their vision and national leadership in connecting to 511. “While easy access to current local traveler information does not resolve congestion, it does return control to travelers who will be able to make informed choices about time, mode and route of travel. Ultimately 511 will lead to saved lives, time and money and improve the quality of life for America’s travelers,” he said.

The northern Kentucky-Cincinnati metropolitan area is the first region in the country to adopt the national dialing code. Several more jurisdictions are expected to implement 511 later this year. To facilitate national implementation of 511, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is working with a coalition that includes the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and the American Public Transportation Association.

The concept of a national traveler information telephone number developed from a growing awareness that even greater benefit could be derived from the nation’s multimillion-dollar investments in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) by delivering local traveler information directly to the public by telephone. In 1999 DOT petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a three-digit telephone number, and on July 21, 2000, the FCC assigned 511 for local traveler information.

At the time the department submitted its petition, more than 300 traveler information telephone numbers existed nationwide. As area codes proliferated and American travel continued to increase, it became clear that a single three-digit national number would be useful in providing motorists with local traveler information – anytime and anywhere.

Five-one-one implementation is eligible for regular federal-aid highway funding. In addition, the department has established a grant program to assist transportation agencies in planning and converting to 511. Additional information on 511 and the 511-implementation assistance grant program is on the Internet at www.its.dot.gov.

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