Traffic Operations Center

ADOT's TOC staff works to keep traffic moving

ADOT's TOC staff works to keep traffic moving


ADOT's TOC staff works to keep traffic moving

ADOT's TOC staff works to keep traffic moving

October 23, 2013

Whether it’s a traffic jam, crash, flood, or even a produce spill – if it happens on the state’s highway system, you can bet ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center is already working to ease the impact it will have on drivers.

The Traffic Operations Center (referred to around here as the TOC), is ADOT’s state-of-the-art electronic data hub. Open 24 hours a day, the TOC is where ADOT staff keeps an eye on traffic conditions around the state.

But they’re not just watching…

Everyone at the TOC is actively working to help make your commute as smooth and safe as possible. They're also letting motorists know what to expect on the road.

“We have many ways to let the public know about what’s going on, on the roadways. We use our Twitter site as well as AZ 511,” says ADOT Public Information Officer Caroline Carpenter in the video above, adding that the ADOT website and Facebook page are also options for learning about road closures and alternate routes. “And, if you’re driving we have nearly 200 overhead messaging boards across the state that will give you all of the information as to what’s happening on the roadways ahead of you.”

Strong partnership

If there’s a crash or other type of incident on the state’s roads, the staff at the TOC will work closely with the Arizona Department of Public Safety until traffic is moving again.

DPS Officer Carrick Cook explains in the video how that partnership is valuable to drivers.

“The people that work at the TOC are a great asset and without their help, people would be stuck in these crashes for a very long time … we rely heavily on them and we appreciate everything they do,” said Cook.

A few more facts about the TOC

  • The TOC monitors more than 250 traffic cameras throughout the state.
  • There are 40 reconfigurable 55-inch flat-panel displays that line a wall in the TOC.
  • Traffic cameras are only for monitoring traffic flow. ADOT does NOT record the video (we get asked about this from time to time … and, in case you ever wondered, the cameras aren’t used for speed enforcement).
  • The dynamic message signs used by TOC staff to warn drivers of what’s ahead are also used for weather advisories and Amber Alerts.

For more on the TOC, see our blog post about its recent high-tech overhaul. You can also read about how ADOT enhanced its online traffic camera images earlier this year and learn how ADOT calculates those freeway travel times.

Freeway travel times help drivers know what to expect on the road ahead

Freeway travel times help drivers know what to expect on the road ahead


Freeway travel times help drivers know what to expect on the road ahead

Freeway travel times help drivers know what to expect on the road ahead

January 24, 2013

Freeway travel times are displayed on
dynamic message signs throughout the Valley.

Nobody enjoys being stuck in traffic, but depending on the time and location of your daily commute, backups are sometimes tough to avoid.

Just knowing what to expect on the road ahead often eases some of the frustration. That knowledge also allows drivers to make informed decisions concerning their route, which is why ADOT provides freeway travel times…

What are Freeway Travel Times?
If you travel in or around the Valley, you’ve likely seen freeway travel times listed on one of several dynamic message signs – they tell you how long it’s going to take for you to drive from one point to another (15 minutes to I-10, 34 minutes to Warner Road, etc.). You can also find the travel times on

These times aren’t just the result of an educated guess; they’re actually continually being calculated by an automated system that uses traffic data and an algorithm.

James Minton, a shift supervisor at ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center, explains that the system updates frequently as new data comes in from the road.

Embedded detector loops and passive acoustic devices pick up information and send it back to the TOC’s system. Integrated GPS data also is factored into the equation.

From that data, the system computes an average of all travel lanes, which is then automatically displayed on the dynamic message signs.

Interesting fact: The times are very accurate as of the moment you see them on the dynamic message sign. Of course, if a crash or some other type of traffic slowdown happens, there will be an impact on a motorist’s drive time – consequently, the travel time displayed on the dynamic message signs changes based on the impact of the incident.

More Travel Times
ADOT started displaying freeway travel times on several dynamic message signs in the Valley back in 2008 as part of a pilot program.

Since that time, response from the public has been positive. In fact, the travel time displays have been so well received that drivers are now seeing more of them.

Until just recently, there were travel times displayed on 11 dynamic message signs (6 inbound to downtown Phoenix and 5 outbound).

But, within the past few months, more signs have been added. There are now 32 signs total (15 inbound and 17 outbound) giving drivers information on 60 different destinations and about 400 directional miles.

“A lot of people appreciate the system,” said Minton, adding that more expansion is planned for the future as new projects get built. “People have really responded well.”

Human factor
While an automated system does the calculating, ADOT employees are the ones who watch the roads (there are 180 cameras in the metro-Phoenix area alone) and display messages on traffic and road conditions, along with potential alternate routes and other important messages.

Minton and his team also record the travel times each day to spot trends and make sure the system is working the way it is supposed to be.

Active Traffic Management
Assistant State Engineer Reza Karimvand says that being able to display travel time information and messages to drivers is a valuable tool when it comes to managing traffic.

With 106 dynamic message signs in the Valley, there’s big opportunity to share important traffic-related messages with drivers. Not only does the information assist drivers on the road, but the details can actually work to improve traffic.

“If we can divert cars from the scene of an accident, it helps the traffic flow,” he said.

New high-tech center monitors your highway safety

New high-tech center monitors your highway safety


New high-tech center monitors your highway safety

New high-tech center monitors your highway safety

September 18, 2012

40 reconfigurable 55-inch flat-panel displays line a wall in the TOC. These screens help ADOT staff monitor traffic conditions around the state.

It may look like something out of the latest hi-tech spy movie, but our newly refurbished Traffic Operations Center is wonderfully real. This state-of-the-art electronic data hub is located in Phoenix and allows ADOT staff to keep a watchful eye on traffic conditions around the state.

The TOC is the core traffic communication system for the state. It’s been in operation since 1992 but was in need of a hi-tech overhaul to meet the demands of nearly 7,000 miles of state highways in Arizona.

Funded through the Federal Highway Administration, the TOC upgrade was a yearlong, $2.1 million project.

It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The objective is to help dispatch ADOT crews and other first responders to highway incidents, assist drivers in avoiding congestion and providing information to the public about crashes, closures or other restrictions.

“Our goal is simple: to keep drivers moving safely around the state, whether it’s for their daily commute or on a trip to another region of Arizona,” said Senior Deputy State Engineer Rob Samour. “Because of the modernization of the Traffic Operations Center, we are now among the best in the country for monitoring traffic flow and providing options to drivers when there are problems on our highways.”

Click over to our website and view our traffic camera images online anytime of the day or night. And speaking of the website … stay tuned for more changes to come as we are working on a complete overhaul of how we report traffic to our users!