Mike Morris hitches a ride on the city’s $500,000 Street Surface Assessment Vehicle, a modified van that’s been hard at work studying street bumps and cracks since last May. Operators hope to complete a pass on more than 16,000 miles of Houston streets by this coming June.
Inside the van, [Patrick] Johnson uses a modified PlayStation controller and a black box with 16 white buttons to run the system, from recording the type of pavement being scanned — cement or asphalt — to marking potholes.
The van’s front lasers, mounted where the bumper used to be, evaluate the pavement surface for rough patches. A second laser device, the “crackscope,” is mounted at the back of the van, recording a continuous bird’s-eye photograph of the street to reveal fissures in the pavement.
A round, 11-lens camera — looking not unlike a disco ball — sits atop the van, recording nearby street features, including culverts and fire hydrants.
Each street starts with a score of 100, but as the lasers find rough patches or cracks and Johnson records each pothole, the score drops.
- High-tech van roams Houston, evaluating its traffic-scarred streets on their need for repairs [Houston Chronicle]
Photos: Public Works Dept.