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Traffic jams DOT Web site

SPOKANE - Clicking on the Washington State Department of Transportation Web site may sometimes feel like traveling in the slow lane.

The site has become so popular that downloading page views can take a long time, especially during snowstorms or busy travel days.

DOT officials acknowledge the Web site is in high demand, and they have been working to speed things up.

They’ve made a number of improvements since last year, when site traffic jammed up with 6 million page views in one day during a West Side snowstorm.

“It’s just a matter of volume,” said Melanie Coon, a DOT spokeswoman. “It’s the volume of users who are trying to access information at the same time.”

Problems can also come from other parts of the data stream, including the browser on a user’s computer.

The DOT Web site appears to respond more quickly through the browsers Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, for example, based on newsroom testing.

On Windows Internet Explorer, checking mountain pass conditions or going to “statewide traveler information” often takes 15 to 20 seconds to load.

While that doesn’t sound like a lot of time, for a regular Web user it can feel like an eternity.

Download speeds were instantaneous on the other two browsers under the newsroom comparison.

DOT’s Web site manager said the agency’s technical team has been working to improve download speeds and access to agency information. Improvements last summer doubled the site’s capacity, said Jeremy Bertrand, Web manager for DOT.

The site also uses offsite tools, including Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, RSS feeds, Flickr and FriendFeed. Those connections offer the chance for users to customize how they receive information.

Traffic on the Web site averages about 1 million page views a day but often increases dramatically during storms, flooding and school holidays.

Snow on Snoqualmie and other passes increases Web traffic too.

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