The state is getting ready to predict the future - at least on the highways.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority is planning to start using a prediction program on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway early next year.
Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said this would give state officials a way to predict traffic problems, and let motorists know how to avoid them.
The program would collect data through current roadway sensors as well as E-ZPass monitors, he said. It would be gathered at the Traffic Management System in Woodbridge.
There, he said, state officials would be able to issue turnpike traffic predictions that would be 90 percent accurate within 10 minutes. On the parkway, that would increase to 93 percent accurate within 10 minutes.
These predictions would go to interactive roadway signs or the state's traffic alert site, 511nj.org.
"They will be able to make better decisions for better traffic management, Feeney said."
Ultimately, he said this program would give the motorists enough advance notice in avoid traffic, whether it be by taking alternate lanes in northern New Jersey or local roads elsewhere.
He said the information would enrich the state's current traffic information system, but wouldn't be available through any new formats.
The state has already tested these programs out in limited instances on its highways, he said, in preparation for going live next year.
The state took a step towards this on Tuesday, records show, when the Turnpike Authority's board approved a $652,440 contract with California's En Pointe Technologies Sales for the software and $58,514 to the IBM Corp. for a server and related software components.
"For the past 10 years the story has been better and better information to motorists and this is a significant step up," Feeney said.