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MoDOT To End 511 Travel Info Service In St. Louis

(via Flickr/MoDOTPhotos)

The Missouri Department of Transportation will end its phone-based traveler information service for the St. Louis area on Saturday because of funding problems.

The department launched the toll-free 511 service in 2007, just before work began on thereconstruction of Interstate 64. It enabled drivers to get up-to-the-minute traffic information about area roadways.

But the company providing 511 service to MoDOT for free can no longer afford to do so, said Tom Blair, the assistant district engineer for St. Louis.

"Our private partner was trying to sell advertising through the 511 services, and wasn’t able to sustain that model any longer," he said.

Blair says the department actively looked for other private partners to provide the services, but could not find a model that worked. He says MoDOT will leave the equipment in place in case it can find the revenue to re-active the system.

"We’re going to let it lay for a while, and then we’ll probably see if we can reach back out and see if there’s new players in the arena that might want to provide 511 services for Missouri," Blair said.

According to Blair, between 100 and 200 people used the service per day, down from a peak of about 700 when it first opened. He says the same information is available online, via text and email updates, and on roadside message boards.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter:@rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.