Tyler City Engineer Carter Delleney said the van is called an ARAN (Automated Road Analyzer), which is under contract with the city to study and grade Tyler’s city street surfaces, which stretch out to 474 miles of pavement.
The ARAN uses multiple types of high tech equipment to gather information about road conditions, so cities can have a better picture of one of the main pieces of a city’s infrastructure — its roads.
Delleney explained that past road studies cost more money and a lot of city personnel and was not as comprehensive as the new study.
“It was more cost-effective for us to pay $180,000 for this study than what we did prior, when we had employees looking at only 100 foot sections of roadway. This actually maps out the entire street as the unit drives around the city,” he said.
The ARAN being used in Tyler is operated by FUGRO, a Holland-based company which has U.S. headquarters in Houston.
The U.S. Pavement Engineering group for the company is in Austin, and Reuben Williams, senior project manager, said the equipment takes images of the pavement and right-of-way as the ARAN crew drives the roadway.
“Other sensors (lasers) measure rutting and roughness (how “bumpy” a road is). And positioning equipment for GPS and linear referencing location are also collected and tied to images and laser sensors,” he said.
But what happens with all of the recorded data?
Delleney said Tyler has a Pavement Condition Index in the high 70s or low 80s, which he said is better than most of the state because of the area’s sandy soils.
Delleney said the index runs from zero to 100, and a good street grade is between 85 and 100, with a satisfactory grade between 70 and 85.
“This study is going to give us better data on our entire streets and road system. We can take the data and determine how we need to better our streets,” he said.
However, the city engineer and Chuck Sampson, the Tyler project engineer, believes the new study might lower the city’s index.
Delleney said the city currently budgets $2 million of asphalt enhancement and another $230,000 for seal coating streets.
“Streets deteriorate over time, so the sooner we can do something about our streets, then the longer the street lasts, and it costs less to make repairs,” he said.
The ARAN also can photograph and record a street’s right-of-way and note any debris, sidewalk or brush issues and signage obstructions. It also can mark fire hydrants, but Tyler is only currently using the unit to evaluate the street surfaces.
Williams said the ARAN has been in Tyler for several weeks and typically it takes between six to eight months for a city of Tyler’s size to do the survey and run it through software to ready for presentation.
For more information on the ARAN visit www.roadware.com/about-us.