New pavement sensors along I-40 keeping drivers safe in winter months

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(Source: ADOT Twitter) (Source: ADOT Twitter)

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is using new technology to help prevent the formation of ice along three Interstate 40 locations: just west of Flagstaff, just west of Williams and on Ash Fork Hill.

Sensors in the pavement are designed to detect and address ice before it has a chance to form. They work by using cameras and instruments from ADOT’s Road Weather Information System to provide the most updated conditions, while also having the capability to alert operators if the pavement temperature drops below a certain threshold.

This is especially a problem in areas of high elevation, namely along the I-40 between Ash Fork and Flagstaff, where elevations reach up to 6,000 feet.

"Technology can provide us with another way to keep motorists safe as they travel to Arizona's colder regions," said Audra Merrick, district engineer for ADOT's North Central District. "These sensors are another tool in ADOT's toolbox to help keep the highways clear of snow and ice during winter season."

Each of the three locations with this new technology contains two sensors that each measure something different: One measures the salt content of the moisture on the road surface, affecting the freezing point, while the other measures the temperature of the ground underneath the moisture.

The measurements are then fed back into the computer program, which casts the information against data from both the National Weather Service and the Road Weather Information System to forecast the likelihood of ice forming. This then helps ADOT know whether they should send crews out to disperse deicing material, or fluids and tools that remove snow and ice.

ADOT officials said this new technology has been so helpful that they plan to install more sensors along high-country roadways over the next couple of years.

The three sensors cost $90,000 and were funded through ADOT’s maintenance funds.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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