Google Street Maps for the Twin Cities
Google rolled out its "street maps" function for the Twin Cities today.
Google staff drove around with cameras on their cars and have posted the video on their maps page. Just click on the "street maps" button, find a road highlighted in blue, and click on it. The viewing buttons are intuitive.
Here is a screen shot that shows Highway 100 from the Minnetonka Blvd interchange by my office.
When I was in Maple Grove we had a private company drive the streets and provide us with a similar video log. They were a start up company located in Maple Grove, so I think we got a pretty good deal. The theory was that we could be more responsive if we could pull up views of a street while we were talking on the phone with a resident. Google is going to save me a lot of time, but I will still get out of my office to verify things in the field.
For instance, here is a slightly outdated view of the I-35W bridge. Google may want to take this one off of their map. As my mentor Shelly Johnson beat into me when I was a newly minted traffic engineer – get out of the office and drive around to see how the real world works.