LIDAR technology can measure how well ditches perform along roadways

Cars attempt to cross a flooded roadway.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

A researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has come up with an automated way of determining how well ditches found along Texas roads and highways are handling rainwater as it flows off the pavement.

Charles Gurganus, associate research engineer in TTI’s Pavements and Materials Division, is studying an automated method of providing the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) with right-of-way-line to right-of-way-line roadway surface geometric information, based on TxDOT’s extensive collection of data documenting the performance of the state’s roadways.

If successful, the TTI project could help Texas significantly improve how wisely it spends taxpayer funds on its roads and highways.

Using a technology known as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), Gurganus can collect extensive roadway geometric data, including roadway cross slopes, super elevations, front slope steepness and drainage areas of a roadway. The technology can also determine the depth of a roadside ditch and its offset related to the nearby pavement structure. All data can be collected at highway speeds

The technology is a single boom-mounted laser device mounted 10 feet in the air. It also uses Global Positioning System technology, an inertial measurement unit and a video camera.

“If we can begin to integrate this information into project development, it will give TxDOT more information so that their project scopes can be more refined,” Gurganus said. “This should help them stretch their funds farther and do more lane miles of work every year. Maintenance supervisors will be able to focus on problem spots with measurable data. Time, effort, materials and money will impact roads that really need it.”

More at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Share