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CDOT Uses New Technology To Battle Icy Roads

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A computer in a snowplow (credit: CBS)

A computer in a snowplow (credit: CBS)

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Transportation is using new technology to fight icy roads.

Since 2006 CDOT trucks have been slowly adding computer technology, and right now about a third of the trucks have a system to help the drivers put down the right amount of product to make a drive safer and save money.

For years CDOT drivers have been spraying products to melt the ice and give traction.

“This combo unit uses slicer as a salt form that’s a granular material, and we use mag chloride which we pretreat as it comes out,” CDOT supervisor Jered Maupin said.

The operators have been using their experience to help them decide how much of each product they’d spray, but now they’re also using computer technology.

“We’re going to punch in snow, we’re going to punch in the lane,” Maupin said.

In five minutes the computer tells them more precisely how much product to put down.

“It’s giving you a recommendation of how many gallons per lane mile to put out of mag chloride and they can set the unit to that, the operator can.”

The system is so fine-tuned operators get guidance on how much to spray from one lane to another, and to another.

“So if one lane is carrying more traffic than the other, that lane may need less product in that lane compared to a different lane that has less traffic.”

The new computer even has live radar capability.

“He can watch the live radar and if the storm’s in the heavy mode or light mode and it’s about to end,” Maupin said. “They can cut back on the product and let the product do the work instead of putting more product out.”

Maupin runs a yard in Castle Rock and estimates he’s saving about 200,000 in ice slicer and mag chloride.

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