Sensors Installed on Gallatin City Vehicles to Detect Potholes, Cracks

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Gallatin has installed sensors on city fleet vehicles that will provide real-time data on where potholes, cracks and other deficiencies are located. The information will be used to prioritize road maintenance and increase the lifespan of city streets.

30 city vehicles from departments including Gallatin Police, Pubic Works, Engineering and Public Works have “Real-Time Pavement Performance Analytics” sensors installed on the undercarriages. The technology works similar to a seismograph and records vibrations at roughly 1,000 times per second. As a city vehicle conducts normal operations throughout Gallatin, results are uploaded each day to an interactive map that provides GPS coordinates for flaws on City streets. Each street is then assigned a unique Pavement Condition Index (PCI) score, which will then be used to monitor and plan the City’s Pavement Rehabilitation Program.

“In the past, determining if a road needed patchwork or a full treatment was a fairly subjective process,” City of Gallatin Assistant City Engineer Charles Gavaghan said. “Now, with the help of our own vehicles, we’ll have daily information that will help guide our maintenance schedule.”

In addition to the vibration sensors, eight cameras will be installed on city trash trucks to capture “Google Street View”-type images of our road network each week. AI software will then be utilized to detect failures, identify patterns and causes of the deterioration, and compare the effectiveness of various rehabilitation methods.

Similar technology has been used for several years in Gallatin. In 2018 and 2022, a contractor conducted surveys of all city streets with cameras and road-scanning devices. While the results of that survey prioritized best and worst streets, daily scans of the roadways offer more up-to-date analysis that can be applied toward predictive models and preventive maintenance.

“Taking the guesswork out of our equation allows engineering and the City Council a better idea of where and when to invest in roads,” Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said. “According to the vendor, using this program could result in our roads lasting up to 40 percent longer, which even a percentage of that means better day-to-day driving and cost savings for city taxpayers.”

The city typically spends $1,000,000-1,500,000 for planned repaving, and an additional $75,000 for one-off street maintenance items.

The yearly cost of this technology is $67,500. The expectation is the investment will pay for itself in the form of time and cost savings associated with developing and implementing the City’s Pavement Rehabilitation Program. Engineers expect to have collected a sufficient amount of baseline data on the entire road network by the Spring of 2024. This will allow the City of Gallatin to fully implement the technology in the development of our next Paving List (2024-2025). Gallatin is the first municipality in the state of Tennessee to implement this technology. Cities in Arkansas and Kentucky have reported positive results from using this technology available from the vendor, Roadway Management Technology (RMT).