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High Tech Vehicle Collecting Pavement Condition Information on Nashville’s Streets


Jenna Smith (615) 880-2439 direct, (615) 967-8186 cell
Kennetha Price (615) 862-8763 direct, (615) 210-6004 cell

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro Public Works paving management team has begun its annual survey of Nashville’s road conditions and residents may see the survey vehicle winding its way through streets in and around the eastern portions of the county throughout this summer.

Using a high-tech Digital Survey Vehicle to capture and record digital images of Nashville’s pavement conditions, the information will be used to ensure smooth, safe and economical pavement surfaces across our roadway network.

The Digital Survey Vehicle uses laser technology to record the degree of roughness and distress along street surfaces, including potholes, cracks and other stresses, and will collect images of the road conditions in forward, side, and downward views. Lasers on the vehicle can measure the change in road surface within two-thousandth of an inch, or roughly 1/2 the thickness of a piece of paper. The vehicle is also equipped with cameras, which will take photographs every 20 feet.

The data will be analyzed and used to assist in developing maintenance strategies for our roadways. These strategies include a combination of preventative maintenance techniques from crack sealing, infrared repair, and fog sealing, to complete resurfacing when a road surface has reached the end of its service life. Metro Public Works has contracted with Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) to conduct this street-by-street analysis.

Metro Public Work’s paving management team continually evaluates new technologies in pavement maintenance. An example is this spring a new surface treatment has been deployed, “Onyx”. Onyx is a step up from the traditional roadway sealants for several reasons. It is a cleaner asphalt technology that does not contain coal-tar, it contains increased levels of recycled materials, and it can be used on collector routes because it can withstand higher volumes of traffic.

“The images and data we receive from the paving assessment are critical to our mission of maintaining Nashville’s roadway infrastructure by extending the life of our pavement and minimizing future repair costs, said Don Reid, Metro Public Works Right-of-Way and Paving Manger. “This information allows us to use the most appropriate pavement preservation solutions at the right time.“

Each year about 1/2 of Nashville's 5,800 travel lane miles of public roadways and rights-of-way are surveyed. This year's focus is in the eastern portion of the county, and survey work will be completed by the end of the summer pending weather conditions.  The specialized vehicle operates at posted speed limits and should not impact traffic. The vehicle will have the ARA logo clearly visible on it.

Learn more about Metro Nashville’s Paving Management Program