JEFFERSON CITY -- Instant weather information provided Missourians with safer roads this winter season, while also saving taxpayers money.
The Missouri Department of Transportation recently installed 13 weather sensors along Interstate 44 to create a road weather information system. The sensors provide data on air and subsurface temperatures, wind speed and direction, precipitation type and intensity, visibility, relative humidity and barometric pressure.
This network of meteorological and pavement sensors gave MoDOT maintenance crews critical information that helped them decide how to treat road surfaces before, during and after a winter storm. For example, during one recent winter storm, the sensors helped crews determine that they only needed to treat bridges along Interstate 44 with salt and chemicals because pavement temperatures were above 32 degrees. Without the information from the sensors, the snow crews would have treated the entire route. This one incident alone saved thousands of dollars.
"These new weather sensors are additional tools to help us operate more timely and effectively when winter weather hits, which in turn enables us to minimize hazardous road conditions for travelers," said Don Hillis, MoDOT's systems management director.
MoDOT uses a total of 16 environmental sensor stations, 14 of which are found along I-44 from the Oklahoma state line to St. Louis. The other two sensors are on Interstate 70 in St. Louis and on Route 36 in St. Joseph.
The weather information system isn't used just in the winter. Some MoDOT operations require pavement temperatures to be above a certain level before work can start. Painting centerline or edge line stripes or applying different asphalt roadway treatments are examples. The sensors allow crews to determine when work can start to better plan how taxpayer money is used.