You may have seen a fleet of vans with external cameras, radars and other devices driving around town. These vans are working to improve the condition of roads in Durham.
The vans, equipped with a multitude of data-collecting devices, collect and compile information about every street maintained by Durham Public Works to help plan street maintenance funding. The project is referred to as the Pavement Condition Survey.
Durham Public Works awarded a contract to private company Roadway Asset Services (RAS) to “assess the condition of streets and develop pavement repair recommendations.”
The City’s Public Works Department “will use this information to more effectively plan and manage the maintenance of City-owned streets,” according to a city of Durham news flash.
This index occurs roughly every four to five years, according to Durham Public Works. The last index took place in 2018 and collected almost 740 miles worth of roadway data. Also, in 2018, Durham Public Works set aside $7 million in taxpayer funding for street maintenance.
This current survey will have similar effects on Durham’s infrastructure.
Durham Public Works announced the project on June 28, work began in July and the project is scheduled to end in October. In October, RAS will create their proposal for the next few years of public street maintenance.
RAS is currently using its specialty vans to scan city streets. The cameras and scanning devices have been programmed to “create a digital data inventory of the condition of City-owned streets,” down to the type of distress found in the pavement.
After an image is taken, the data is compiled and mapping identifies troublesome locations in the city. This information is used to create an infrastructure plan.
Streets are given a number score between 0-100 and sorted into five different categories: “good,” “satisfactory,” “fair,” “poor” and “failed.”
A “good” street scores between 86 and 100, while a “failed” street is in the 0 to 25 range. The average score given to roads assessed in the 2018 survey was 69, indicating “fair” street conditions. Individual street scores can be accessed on this digital map created by Durham Public Works.
The company in charge of 2018’s Pavement Condition Survey advised Public Works on a “10-year $10M Funding Scenario (Optimization),” which “[developed] a ten-year long-term pavement maintenance and preservation program” with the city’s $7 million street maintenance allowance.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
This plan kept street scores at an average of 72, or “satisfactory” conditions, by dedicating 30% of the fund to preservation and 70% to rehabilitation, performing maintenance on individual streets with higher scores first.
The success and downfalls of this plan will be represented during the 2021 index. This allows the city to decide what actions to take—as they reevaluate the 2018 plan—in the preservation of public roadways with their current conditions.
Durham Public Works did not respond for comment.