State-of-the-art Vehicle Peeks at our Streets
By Office of Communication
Posted on June 01, 2012, June 01, 2012

A specialized vehicle that can assess street conditions will provide a unique perspective on city roadways in the coming weeks.

The pavement evaluation device will work its way through southern parts of the city using lasers and photography to survey the streets. The device takes digital images of the pavement surface and records the degrees of roughness and distress in the paving.

City officials contract with a national research and engineering company to conduct the survey. Then Public Works officials work with the company to take the reams of data collected, assign a score to sections of roadway and determine the degree of repairs needed.

"We look at our budget and figure out which projects that we can afford," said Steve Cooke, the assistant public works director. "This gives us an objective view of everything. It helps us to have data. It helps make our planning very relevant."

Cooke said such specific information on road conditions helps city officials make the most effective use of available funds. It also aids officials by combining the newest data with past information collected to spot trends over time.

The pavement condition survey is conducted yearly throughout about one-third of the city's roadways.

The survey is part of a pavement management program funded by the street maintenance sales tax, which is used for ongoing street repair and maintenance. Voters may re-authorize the tax every four years. The last approval was in 2010.

Cooke said the analysis of street data never stops as officials seek to determine which roads need maintenance and which need a complete reconstruction.

He said the Public Works collaborates with Water Utilities and other departments on projects that may involve road repairs and improvements.

Some damaged roads, Cooke said, are so complicated to repair that officials may opt to wait until the road can be added to a Capitol Projects list for a major overhaul.

"We can do all of the maintenance in the world but some roads cannot be made better until they're completely redone," he said. "We have to wait until we can afford to do the entire thing."

Cooke said officials would look at the survey data over the coming months to determine the possible slate of upcoming repairs.

By Laurie Fox

 Vehicle Peeks
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