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Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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State rest areas offer wireless Internet access

Seattle Times staff reporter

Just how long is that wait at the Canadian border, and is there a faster crossing?

And what about avalanche conditions on Snoqualmie Pass? Would Stevens Pass be better?

Isn't there a festival in Winthrop this weekend?

And will there be enough time to catch the Edmonds-to-Kingston ferry?

All these questions can be answered with the click of a mouse. Many of the state's rest areas are now wired.

Wireless Internet access is now available at 28 of the state's 42 rest areas, including most of those in Western Washington. Travelers can log onto the state Department of Transportation's (DOT) Web site, other travel sites and Washington tourism sites at no charge.

Checking e-mail messages will cost.

The DOT, working with Parsons Transportation Group and Road Connect, will allow travelers with laptop computers to log in and check, for example, road conditions and travel times.

"We're confident this information, accessible at various critical points around the state, will allow drivers to make informed choices about their travel plans," said Doug Pierce, DOT's maintenance and operations manager.

Not only is the DOT information available, but travelers also will be able to check Amtrak, Metro buses and Sounder information for free. To check e-mail, travelers will have to log onto Road Connect. That will cost $1.99 for 20 minutes or $3.99 a day.

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According to the DOT, 20 million people visit Washington rest areas each year. Road Connect now offers wireless Internet service at rest areas in Oregon, Texas and Kansas.

To find rest areas with Wi-Fi service, go to: www.wsdot.wa.gov/biz/restareas/restareamap.htm.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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