Trips and Alerts Help

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The Trip Report

The Trip Report uses detector readings and other data to calculate current approximate travel times along an expressway trip of your choosing. It also shows incidents and construction on that trip. If you have used the Customizable Traveler Report, you will find that the Trip Report is an enhancement of that report that lets you specify a trip along any number of expressways. For example, you can define a trip from Oak Park to Skokie that begins on the Eisenhower Expressway at Austin Ave, continues to the intersection with the Kennedy Expressway, continues north on the Kennedy Expressway until the junction with the Edens Expressway, and then continues north on the Edens Expressway until Dempster St. You can then view the current estimated travel time at each point along the trip as well as whether there are any accidents or construction projects along the way. In addition, the system supports saving trips for quick viewing of their traffic information and receiving customizable email alerts about real-time traffic conditions along the trip. Note that the Trip Report does not perform route finding. The Trip Report is available from the "trips" menu.

Since the Trip Report displays information along multiple expressway sections in a given direction, selecting a location for the report is different than for the other reports. If you have not used the Trip Report or saved any trips, when you first go to that page, it presents a form for selecting the start expressway and direction. Unlike the other reports, the State drop-list does not contain an "-- Entire Region --" option nor the Arterials options. When a state is selected, the Expressway drop-list contains options for each expressway in each direction within the state. For example in Illinois, the other reports have an option for "I-39", but the Expressway drop-list on the Trip Report contains the two options "I-39 NB" and "I-39 SB".

When you select an expressway and direction in the Expressway drop-list, a form is displayed that allows you to select the start and end point of the portion of that expressway that begins the trip. For example, if you select Illinois in the State drop-list and then I-290 EB in the Expressways drop-list, the page appears as follows:

Trip Report 1

The items on the Trip Report with a start expressway selected are as follows:

  1. The form for specifying a trip - after selecting a start expressway, the form contains three sections:
  2. Updated Time - the date and time the information in the report was last received, which does not indicate the last update of all information on the report
  3. Trips and Alerts Help - a link to this page for viewing help on the Trip Report and Travel Midwest Alerts System
  4. Select Trip - a link to initial version of this report that allows selecting a different saved trip (present only if you have saved trips in "My Trips")

The next step in defining the trip from Oak Park to Skokie described above is to select the Start Cross Street "Austin Blvd" and the End Cross Street "I-90/94 (Kennedy Expy / Dan Ryan Expy)" for the first section of the trip. The form now appears as follows:

Trip Report 2

Since there are connections to other expressways at the selected end cross street, the second section of the form includes a Connection drop-list that allows you to specify the next expressway along the trip. To simplify selecting connections, named roads such as Kennedy Expy and Dan Ryan Expy are not listed in the Connection drop-lists. These expressways can be selected using their route numbers. In addition, a connection to an interstate that spans more than one state uses the Regional version of that interstate so that it is not necessary to specify additional connections at state lines. For our trip, we will select the connection "I-90 WB", in which case the form appears as follows:

Trip Report 3

The third section of the form for I-90 WB does not include a Start Cross Street drop-list because the start point of the I-90 WB section is already specified as the intersection with I-290. There are no expressway connections at the end cross street so the Connection drop-list is not present. The End Cross Street drop-list options begin at the cross street after that intersection and continue through Illinois and Wisconsin to the Mississippi River. To continue our trip, we select the End Cross Street "I-94 (Edens Expy)", which also has a connection, so the form appears as follows:

Trip Report 4

Next we select the Connection "I-94 WB" in the third section of the form, which adds a fourth section for I-94 WB. Finally, we select "IL-58 (Dempster St)" in the fourth section to finish specifying the trip. Then we give it the name "Oak Park to Skokie" and the form appears as follows:

Trip Report 5

We now have the options of viewing traffic information along the trip, saving the trip to "My Trips", or registering for email alerts about traffic conditions along the trip. The latter two options are discussed in the next two section of this page. If we press "Show Traffic Information", a table of current traffic information is displayed with a section for each expressway along the trip. The table contains rows for each Cross Street on the trip showing the travel time from the start cross street to that cross street, until the end cross street, which gives the total travel time for the trip. Each row also displays additional information about the segment between that cross street and its predecessor in the table. For example if we press "Show Traffic Information" for our trip, a report like the following is displayed:

Trip Report 6

The items in the traffic information on the Trip Report are as follows:

  1. Congestion Legend - the meanings of the congestion colors used on the report; if you have difficulty distinguishing the congestion colors on the map and reports, you can click on the ADA icon next to "Uncongested" to open a window that lets you set the color used for "Uncongested" to blue, which is easier to distinguish from the red for "Heavy" and the grey for "Unknown"; clicking on the "info" icon displays a detailed description of the congestion levels
  2. Expressway Name - the name and direction of the expressway for this section of the table
  3. Cross Street - the cross street for which a travel time from the start point is specified
  4. Mile Marker - the mile marker of the cross street, if any
  5. Congestion Status - a general measure of the congestion for the segment between the cross street and its predecessor
  6. Speed - the average speed in miles per hour for the segment between the cross street and its predecessor, which will in all likelihood not be constant along the entire length of the section
  7. Average Speed - the historical average speed in miles per hour for the segment for the current day of week and time of day
  8. Travel Time From Start - the time in minutes calculated by the Travel Midwest site for travel on the expressway from the start cross street to this cross street
  9. Incident End Time - if there is an incident on the segment between the cross street and its predecessor, the estimated end time of that incident; the time is also a link to the Incident Report displaying that incident; if there is more than one incident on that segment, the most severe is displayed
  10. Incident Severity - if there is an incident on the segment between the cross street and its predecessor, the severity of that incident; the severity is also a link to the Incident Report displaying that incident
  11. Construction End Time - if there is roadwork on the segment between the cross street and its predecessor, the estimated end time of that roadwork; the time is also a link to the Construction Report displaying that roadwork; if there is more than one roadwork on that segment, the most severe is displayed
  12. Construction Severity - if there is roadwork on the segment between the cross street and its predecessor, the severity of that roadwork; the severity is also a link to the Construction Report displaying that roadwork

There are expressway sections for which there is no detection equipment or for which the equipment is not functioning. In this case, travel times cannot be computed so the Trip Report uses archived traffic information for the current time of day and day of week. For example, there is no equipment on I-57 south of 167th street. If you select I-57 NB and then select "US-30 (Lincoln Hwy)" as the start cross street and "IL-1 (Halsted St)" as the end cross street, a report like the following is displayed:

Trip Report 7

Below the form, there is a note to the user about the lack of detection on I-57 NB from Sauk Trail to I-80, and the congestion level and speed displayed for the first three cross streets is unknown. (Incidents and roadwork on those segments are still displayed.) The values in the Travel Time From Start column for the first three rows are computed based on historical data.

If you are defining a trip and find that you have changed your mind about the route or have made a mistake, you can select a different State, Expressway, Start Cross Street, End Cross Street or Connection in any one of the form sections. When you do so, the succeeding sections will be removed, except for the last section that contains the trip name and the action buttons. You can then proceed with specifying the rest of the trip from that point.

My Trips

Once you have defined a trip, the Travel Midwest "My Trips" feature allows you to save that trip so that you can view it again on the Trip Report. Like other web sites that maintain user-specific preferences, this feature requires that cookies are enabled in your browser. To save a trip to your My Trips, type a name that identifies the trip to you and then press the "Save to My Trips" button on the Trip Report. If you do not give the trip a name, a description of the trip location of the form "start-point to end-point via connections" will be used. For example, the trip we defined in the last section would be named "I-290 EB at Austin Blvd to I-94 WB at Dempster St via I-90 WB".

Once you have added trips to your My Trips, those trips are available when you go to the Trip Report so that you can quickly access traffic information for the trip. If you have trips in your My Trips, the Trip Report initially appears as follows:

Trip Report 8

If you press "Select Trip", the Trip Report will be populated with the selected trip. If you press "Create New Trip", the Trip Report begins with the Select Start Expressway form that we discussed above. If you wish to change the route of a trip, you can do so by displaying the trip on the Trip Report and then saving the new route to your My Trips. The updated version of the trip will be saved. Note that trips in your My Trips are identified by name so if you select a trip, change its name, and then save the result to your My Trips, the new trip is saved but the previous trip is not deleted.

To view your My Trips, select "My Trips" from the "trips" menu and a page listing your trips is displayed. Clicking on the name of a trip on that page will open the Trip Report populated with that trip. That page also allows you to delete a trip from your My Trips if desired. To do so, check the trip's checkbox in the "Delete" column and press "Delete Selected Trips".

Travel Midwest Email Alerts

The Travel Midwest Alert System sends email notifications containing traffic information about the conditions along selected expressway segments to users registered for the system. A user may register for alerts for any number of trips, and the format, contents, and timing of the alerts for each trip are customizable. The service is free. To register to receive email alerts about traffic conditions along a trip, specify the trip on the Trip Report (or load it from the My Trips page), and press the "Email Alerts" button. If you do not have an email alerts account, you will be directed to the Travel Midwest Alerts Registration page, which includes instructions on how to register. If you have an account, you will be directed to the Update Alerts Account page with the trip selected.

The Alerts Registration page is divided into two sections, one for user information and one for alerts preferences for the given trip. In the User Information section, you give your email address, a password for the Travel Midwest Alert System, and whether you want formatted or plain text alerts. You can also give a time period during which you do not wish to receive alerts, e.g. while you are on vacation. Your password must be at least eight characters and contain characters from at least two of the following categories: lower case, upper case, digits, and symbols.

The Alert Preferences section is divided into two subsections. In the Alert Schedule subsection, you give the days of the week and the time of day during which you wish to receive alerts, and the frequency during that time period. You may also specify that the system only notify you when the average speed along the trip is below a given speed. In the Travel Information subsection, you specify the types of travel information you wish to receive: travel time, congestion, construction, and/or incidents. The "Sample" links next to each choice display a formatted example of the alert for each type of information. If you have decided to receive notifications of incidents, there are further customization options. You may specify the severity of incidents that you will be notified about, and may indicate that you wish to receive notification of all severe incidents along the trip, even those that occur outside your given time period.

The Alerts Registration page includes a "captcha" to ensure that the registration is being submitted by a human. Your Travel Midwest Alerts account is created when you press the "Register" button at the bottom of the page, but it is not activated immediately. You will receive an Email notification that your account has been created, which will include a link that you must follow to activate your account and receive alerts. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the person who filled out the registration form is the person at that account. If you already have a verified Travel Midwest Alerts account when you register for a trip, that trip and its preferences will be added to your account and you will begin receiving alerts when your specified time period begins.

If you wish to edit the user information or alert settings for your Travel Midwest Alerts account, select the "Update Alerts Account" item from the "trips" menu. You are presented a Login form in which you enter your email address and password (unless you have already logged in). Once you log in, your user information will be displayed together with a table listing the trips for which you are receiving alerts. You may edit your user settings and then press "Update Account" to update your account. If you change the email address on your account, it will be marked as unverified and you will receive an Email notification at the new email address, which will include a link that you must follow to activate your account and receive alerts. You can delete your alerts account by pressing "Delete Account".

If you wish to edit the alert settings for a particular trip, select the radio button for that trip in the Alert Trips table and then press "Edit Alert Preferences". The alert preferences for that trip will be displayed, which you can then edit. Pressing "Update Account" will save the settings for the displayed trip as well as your user settings. If you wish to edit the route for one of you trips, select its radio button and press "Edit Trip Route" and you will be redirected to the Trip Report displaying that trip. Adjust the trip as necessary and then press "Email Alerts" to return to this page where you can save your settings. If you wish to delete one of your trips so that you no longer receive alerts for it, select its radio button and then press "Delete Trip" (pressing "Update Account" is not necessary).

If you have forgotten the password for your Travel Midwest Alerts account, select the "Forgot Alerts Password" item from the "trips" menu. Enter the email address for your account and press "Send Password" and a new password will be generated and set on your account and mailed to you. (The system cannot remind you of your current Travel Midwest Alerts password because it is encrypted in the database for your privacy.) You may then go to the Update Alerts Account page, log in with the generated password, and then change the password to one that you can remember.

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Mon Feb 18 2019 20:11:33 CST