A minivan on a mission will soon be coming to a street near you. Near everyone in Colorado Springs, actually.
The van will be driving down every street and alley in the city in coming weeks, collecting detailed data about the condition of the pavement, cracks and potholes, and laying the groundwork for smoother roads.
The data collected by the van on the condition of 1,804 miles of city roads and alleys will help guide decisions about short-term maintenance, such as crack sealing, and long-term paving projects, said Corey Farkas, city public works operations and maintenance division manager.
The city paid Marker Geospatial $266,000 to gather data on city roads over eight weeks, a project that used to take 3½ years when it was done manually by staff members, said Andy Richter, the city's GIS supervisor. The car has also inspected roads for Manitou Springs and expects to do so in Fountain as well, he said.
"It's cheaper, faster and more detailed information we can gather with this technology than doing it manually," Farkas said.
The data collected by cameras, laser technology and other means mounted to the van determines the severity and extent of pavement damage. Data collected by a second vehicle determines pavement depth, which helps plan projects because older pavement can be worn thin, Farkas said. A camera on top of the van also collects 360-degree video that will help city staff catalog and maintain trees along streets.
The city is behind on road maintenance, but is getting caught up through Ballot Issue 2C tax revenue, a 6.2 cent tax on every $10 spent, or about $50 million annually, he said. The city plans to pave 224 lane miles this year with 2C funds, along roads such as Garden of the Gods Road, Nevada Avenue and East Platte Avenue, and it is on track to hit that goal, Farkas said. However, city crews were challenged by a severe winter, an ambitious number of lane miles and by extensive concrete work, including pedestrian ramps, required along the roads, he said.
Voters approved a five-year extension of the 2C funding that starts next year at a lower rate of 5.7 cents on every $10 spent, and is also expected to generate $50 million. The next five years of 2C revenue will be split 50-50 between larger roadways and residential streets, Farkas said.
Consistent data collection similar to that provided by Marker Geospatial over time should help the city get to a sustainable road maintenance program, he said.