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Taking A Spin In Phoenix’s Pavement Management Van

Phoenix’s pavement management van
(Photo by Mark Brodie - KJZZ)
Phoenix’s pavement management van.

Phoenix has more than 800 miles of arterial and major collector streets, not to mention more residential roads. That’s a lot of pavement. and, the city has one really tricked out van that drives those streets, assessing their condition.

Todd Nunn, a chief engineering technician with the city, spoke about the van.

"We have two right-of-way cameras - one in the front, one in the back. Also, two high-definition cameras that face down that are taking pictures of the pavement and, a roughness laser in the front," he said. "As we’re driving along, it’s going to be taking these high-definition pictures. We take those back to the office and run it through a software called Vision that looks for the cracks and determines what type of maintenance needs to be done."

Nunn didn’t mention the seven computers on board. He said the van collects a ton of data, which helps city engineers figure out which streets are doing OK, which need some work, and for those, what kind of work they may need.

Rubben Lolly, the pavement programming manager for Phoenix’s Street Transportation Department, spoke about how it is used.

"Generally, it’s cheaper to keep a good street in good condition than to replace a new one," he said.

Lolly said engineers upload the images and data that come back from the van and use it to quantify the distresses on Phoenix’s roadways. The software can even help figure out which projects fit into the department’s budget in a given year.

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.