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Northwest Florida SunGuide Center keeps roads safe in more ways than one

CHIPLEY — The Northwest Florida SunGuide Center monitors about 300 miles of roadway from Pensacola to just outside of Tallahassee 24 hours a day. 

“We basically provide real time traffic monitoring of all the freeway throughout the district. So from Pensacola, at the state line, all the way to the Madison County line on the other side of Tallahassee,” said Arterial Operations Manager, David Roark. 

Roark said during their shift, each person is responsible for monitoring 60 to 80 miles of highway during peak times. The Florida Department of Transportation is able to check parts of I-10 and some arterial highways like U.S. 231 according to Roark. 

“We have approximately 300 cameras, 50 overhead message boards that provide the data — or the information — to the traveling motors to give them a heads up for any congestion or other houses that they might encounter,” Roark said. 

However, FDOT doesnÂ’t solely rely on technology at the Northwest Florida SunGuide Center when it comes to keeping the roads safe. 

“And of course Monday through Friday from 6 a to 10 p theyÂ’re communicating with the Road Rangers,” Roark said. 

Roark said they have a direct connection with the Florida Highway Patrol which helps them learn of traffic incidents quickly. 

“In that case they would dispatch the road rangers and any other resources that the department may have at itÂ’s disposal — local maintenance asset managers, and the maintenance crews that would be able to bring out additional resources such as a trailer full of cones,” Roark said. 

Roark said he wants to remind drivers they donÂ’t have to be in a traffic accident to call for a Road Ranger. If you have a flat tire or need a jump, he said you can dial *FHP to get help from a Road Ranger. 

FDOT also encourages drivers to check the website fl511.com to stay up-to-date on traffic in the area. 

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