Concrete saws keep traffic management system installation on time

Traffic in Kansas City will be less congested thanks to a new network sensor program called Kansas City Scout.

The program, which went into effect Jan. 12, relies on a network of built-in sensors and cameras that inform commuters of highway conditions through a department of transportation website, radio stations and roadway message boards. In the case of a traffic accident on the highway, the program also helps authorities assist drivers and clear congestion.

For the program to work, electronic traffic sensor loops had to be installed in the pavement at quarter-mile intervals. Because the project had to be implemented with minimal disruptions to roadway conditions, the installation had to be done primarily at night and on weekends.

“At each of the 1,200 locations we’ve had to cut a narrow channel across all the lanes of pavement and embed the loop sensors,” said Jim Tepper, vice president of signalization and street lighting for Capital Electric. The information is processed at 224 roadside controllers and communicated back to the traffic operations center via a fiber optic cable backbone.

Approximately 600,000 feet of fiber and 370,000 feet of conduit was planted in the highway through trenching or directional boring methods. One of the most important aspects of the installation was the use of a concrete saw.

“This was normally a 10 to 12 person operation, and we didn’t have time to have saws or blades fail,” Tepper said. “If we didn’t get a loop within a section completed, we would lose the whole night, and we didn’t have that luxury.”

Capital Electric used a walk-behind Target Pro 35 air-cooled professional concrete saw. To make sure the saw would work flawlessly on the project, the metallurgist at Target, Methin Sacarkan, formulated and tested a custom diamond blade specifically for the Kansas City Scout project. Standby saws and blades were also kept on hand to ensure there would be no delays once each of the 1,200 sensor loops were started. The saws were also equipped with light kits to help operators safely cut pavement at night.

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Completed in October, the scout project went into full operation last week. To find out more about the project, or find out how traffic is on Kansas City’s freeways, click on the link to the right.