Thirty-foot towers and hockey puck-sized road sensors installed along Interstate 89 will begin supplying weather-related data to the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) on Friday, according to the Barre Montpelier Times Argus.
Probes and collection beakers along the towers collect data on temperature, wind speed and direction, and the types and amounts of precipitation. The road sensors collect surface and sub-grade temperatures as well as precipitation information, and they can detect the presence of ice on a roadway and even the amount of salt that has been applied, says VTrans’ Intelligent Transportation System Project Manager Dan Grahovac.
The equipment was installed along the Interstate last fall in two pilot locations. The system that collects atmospheric and road conditions is new to the state, though the Swiss-made technology is already in use across the nation in states such as Montana, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. If successful in the pilot locations, as many as 60 units will be installed around Vermont in the next five to eight years, says Grahovac. He estimates the costs of each unit, including installation, at $40,000 to $45,000 each, half of which would be covered by the federal government.
Currently, Vermont highway employees learn of weather conditions by either taking a look for themselves or by receiving calls from the state police.