High-tech van helping Grand Island keep streets in shape

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — A technologically advanced van is helping Grand Island determine how to keep its streets in good shape and save taxpayer money in the process.

Grand Island has hired a Savoy, Illinois-based firm, Engineering & Research International, to complete the project. The street assessment van going up and down the more than 300 miles of Grand Island streets is equipped with high-resolution cameras, ground-penetrating radar, global positioning systems and onboard computers. The van equipment will look at such things as cracks in the roads and roughness.

The Grand Island Independent reported that the data is processed to determine an overall condition index for each pavement segment.

"The data collected is critical for the city to allocate resources to the locations with the highest need," said John Collins, the city public works director.

"It tells us where the most distress is at," Collins said. "Then we go out and manually inspect them, because there may be other reasons for the cause of the distress."

The survey information helps determine which sections of pavement to overlay — something of vital interest to the public, he said.

The city spends up to $1 million a year doing overlays on its streets and spends $3 million to $4 million on all types of pavement preservation. Using the information to prioritize can save the city as much as $400,000 annually, Collins said.

"This is the third year we have done this. It tells us whether our roads are getting better or worse," Collins said. The last survey showed Grand Island's streets were better than the global average.

"It wasn't much, but it tells us that we are doing a fairly good job in determining how much to do and where to do it," he said.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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