Innovations in Land Surveying: New Technology May Save Both Lives and Money
A new LiDAR application developed at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute may help the
Texas Department of Transportation reduce the number of deaths on their roadways while also saving money.
According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), approximately 22 percent of roadway crashes are due to adverse weather conditions that result in approximately 6,000 fatalities each year. The majority of these accidents (73 percent) are due to wet pavement while experts attribute 46 percent to rainfall. Research indicates that well-functioning stormwater drainage systems, when well-maintained, can limit the amount of lane submersion that occurs during rainstorms.
The Economic Challenges of Maintaining Roadway Storm Water Drainage Systems
The Texas road and highway system is the largest in the country and it serves as the primary economic support system for the state. Both the Texas legislature, through appropriations, and the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) work diligently to ensure the state’s roads and highways operate “efficiently, reliably, safely.” Despite spending $21 billion each year on road projects, the TXDOT has struggled to achieve the safety aspect of their mission. In 2015, the traffic fatality rate was 1.39 per 100 million, surpassing the US national average of 1.00 over 100 million. In addition, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Texas roads a grade of D. What innovations using LiDAR technology can help the TXDOT spend taxpayer dollars efficiently and wisely while making Texas safer?
Using LiDAR Surveying Technology to Assess Stormwater Drainage Along Texas Roadways
A recent article on the website Civil and Structural Engineer discusses the work of Charles Gurganus, an associate research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Pavement and Materials Division. He is currently investigating the use of an automated LiDAR system to assess the efficacy of stormwater ditches along Texas roadways. This system uses a combination of LiDAR and GPS Technology mounted on a 10-foot boom located on the back of the truck to collect survey data at highway speeds, which reduces the labor cost of road drainage projects while at the same improving safety. The purpose of this system is to gather right of way line to right of way line road surface geometric information that includes the following data:
- Roadway cross slopes
- Front slope steepness
- Drainage areas
Once collected, roadway and pavement engineers then analyze the data to determine the existence of roadway stresses as well as the efficacy and efficiency of roadway stormwater ditches. According to Garganus, the use of this analysis may prevent the TXDOT from making road surface improvements where they are not needed. By reducing and refining the scope of highway projects, TXDOT will be able to limit the costs of road projects.
What is your opinion of this new application of LiDAR technology?