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Information is the key for crusing Carbon’s winter by-ways



By Sun Advocate

Driving these snowy Carbon County roads can be made easier by getting information from the 511 phone service UDOT offers.

It can be nerve-wracking and dangerous to make travel plans without knowing the weather and road conditions. Carbon County and the surrounding areas are riddled with treacherous highways that become even worse when the snow begins to fall.
However, the Utah Department of Transportation offers a solution for travels who need accurate weather and road information before leaving on a trip.
Travel info, or 511, is a voice-activated road and weather service which offers information on essentially every segment of road in Utah.
According to UDOT representative Dale Stapley, roadways throughout the state are sectioned off and assigned a supervisor who is responsible for updating any major changes in weather and road conditions throughout the day.
There is no fee for using the 511 service and Stapley asserts that some of the most accurate road information in the state is provided by those overseeing the southeastern area.
“We’re really working hard with our foreman to keep it updated so people will build a trust in it,” he said.
By using 511, residents will also help control the overload of calls received by emergency medical dispatch.
According to Dispatcher Martin Estrada, on a bad-weather day, the office is flooded with hundreds of calls an hour from concerned drivers needing to know the weather.
He said that dispatch hopes citizens will learn to rely on the 511 system, which will cut down on calls to the dispatch service and allow more critical calls to receive quicker response.
“We need to get the word out that 511 does exist and it works very well,” Martin noted.
Another useful resource for Carbon County residents with access to the internet is the Utah Department of Transportation site.
The site offers timely road condition reports for the entire state, as well as traffic conditions and road construction and closure information.
Users can view Utah roads through weather cameras connected to the site.
Internet surfers can also link the weather reports for surrounding states.
Additionally, Stapley said travelers on U.S. 6 can look for information on canyon conditions on the overhead electronic sign at the mouth of the canyon in Helper.
The sign is updated with current weather conditions in the event of problematic roadways at the higher elevations.
“It can be terrible on the mountain when there are clear skies down here,” he advised. “Now you can check and see what the roads are like before you get there.”
There is one hitch for users trying to access 511 from a cell phone. Verizon cell phone service does not allow the 511 number to be dialed from their phones.
However, Carbon residents can circumvent the inconvenience by dialing 866-511-UTAH or 800-492-2400. The 800 numbers will connect callers to the 511 service.

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