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New I-40 pavement sensors helping ADOT identify and address ice before it forms

Technology helping keep drivers safe during winter conditions
February 14, 2017

PHOENIX – Sensors installed at three Interstate 40 locations west of Flagstaff are helping the Arizona Department of Transportation forecast the likelihood of ice forming and respond accordingly.

The combination of freezing temperatures and moisture means ice can form overnight in Arizona’s high country. It’s an especially big challenge on I-40 between Ash Fork and Flagstaff, which is above 6,000 feet in most places and sees heavy use by commercial and passenger vehicles.

“Technology can provide us with another way to keep motorists safe as they travel to Arizona’s colder regions,” said Audra Merrick, district engineer for ADOT’s North Central District. “These sensors are another tool in ADOT’s toolbox to help keep the highways clear of snow and ice during winter season.”

The roadway sensors, positioned just west of Flagstaff, just west of Williams and on Ash Fork Hill, are connected to ADOT Road Weather Information System locations, which use cameras and instruments to provide the latest conditions. Each location has one sensor measuring the salt content of road surface moisture, which affects the freezing point, and another measuring the temperature of the ground underneath.

A computer program combines this information with data from the Road Weather Information System and National Weather Service to forecast the likelihood of ice forming, helping ADOT determine whether to send crews out to lay deicing material.

The program can also alert operators if the pavement temperature drops below a certain threshold.

The data provided so far has been so helpful that ADOT plans to install sensors at additional high-country roadway locations over the next few years.

The three sensors on I-40 cost $90,000 and were funded through ADOT maintenance funds.

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Civil RightsTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad.  Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.