When Utah native Darby Bailey returns to visit the Beehive State from her new home in California, she said she plans to use the new 511 hotline for traffic information.

But Bailey said she might have a hard time paying attention to the information. Instead, she'll be critiquing the voice recording she hears — her own voice.

"It definitely used to be weird when I'd call and hear my own voice," she said. Bailey is also the voice for 1-800-555-TELL, the AT&T Wireless 121 service and other phone applications.

The East High graduate has been gone from Utah for a couple of years and said it was exciting to come back for the launch of the 511 service Tuesday.

Bailey works for TellMe Networks Inc., which joined with National Engineering Technology to provide the voice and Internet technologies for Utah's 511 service. Utah is the first state to use a voice-activated system for 511.

A caller can dial 511 from most touch-tone phones and choose between traffic, winter road conditions, public transit and Olympics information options. The initial greeting — "Welcome to Utah's new 511 travel information service" — was recorded more than 40 times, Bailey said.

"It's the first audio you hear, they wanted it to be the best," she said.

Bailey joined various state and transportation officials Tuesday to launch the system. Lt. Gov. Olene Walker made the first call.

Utah Department of Transportation executive director John Njord said launching the system now will allow for some fine tuning before the Olympics.

"It will improve over time," he said.

Within a week, transit information will be available on the hotline, said Utah Transit Authority general manager John Inglish. UTA is working on recording messages. Callers will be able to connect to UTA's call center for specific information on routes. The acting deputy chief of staff to the U.S. secretary of transportation, Capt. Manson Brown, recognized Utah as one of only six states to have launched 511. In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission officially designated 511 as a nationwide number for travel information.

"Where Utah goes with 511, America will follow," Brown said.


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