LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - You've seen them sticking up out of the ground along Interstate
435, crossing the state line and heading into and out of the Triangle - the colorful
blue, yellow and black “noodles” that will house the fiber-optics backbone of Kansas
City's newest traffic information system, Kansas City Scout.
Scout is the joint effort of the Kansas and Missouri departments of transportation.
It uses technology to provide drivers information about the roads they travel --
information about traffic delays such as accidents and lane closures and approximate
travel times on metropolitan-area highways.
Kansas and Missouri began installing Scout's infrastructure - including construction
of a Traffic Operations Center in Lee's Summit -- last September. Since then, more
than half of the project's 90 miles of conduit - those colorful “noodles” - have
been placed underground along the highways where Scout will operate. Those left
sticking out of ground are now being placed inside protective housing so crews can
then blow a fiber-optic network through them.
The fiber-optic network is critical to the system's information gathering that will
be managed out of its Lee's Summit operations center. Construction of that center
will be complete in March. Crews will then spend the spring and summer months installing
equipment and software that will run the Scout system. Testing equipment should
begin late this year.
Crews will also begin work this summer installing Scout's video cameras, electronic
message boards and roadside vehicle detectors along the highways that are part of
Scout's system. Crews will also work overnight during the summer months imbedding
highway pavement to install more detectors in the roadway.
When fully installed, Scout will operate on 75 miles of the metropolitan area's
most congested highways and is expected to start operating at the end of 2003. Scout
will operate on I-435 from I-35 east to Grandview Road near the Triangle, on portions
of I-35, US 69 and K-10 in Kansas and on portions of interstates 35, 470, 670, 70,
highways 71 and 169, and Route 9 in Missouri. Once operational, Scout will help
ease traffic congestion along its routes while providing a safer highway environment
and useful traveler information.
Scout is the Kansas City area's first Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS),
and its first-phase coverage is the largest of any system already in place throughout
the country. The Federal Highway Administration is funding up to 90 percent of the
project with the remaining costs shared between the Kansas and Missouri departments