May 19th, 2010
CAMERA BOLDLY GOES WHERE NO UDOT WORKER HAS GONE BEFOREPreserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is using a state-of-the-art camera on wheels to view the inside of pipes and culverts.
Images from the camera are sent by closed circuit to a video viewing area so workers can easily identify structural defects or obstructions. Video images are recorded for later review.
Manpower saved, travel delay avoided
Before the equipment purchased, seeing inside pipes was impossible without digging up the road. Pipes were installed, then “out of site out of mind until a catastrophic failure,” says Hydraulics Engineer Jeff Erdman. And, road users were inconvenienced while crews closed lanes or sometimes whole roads to excavate. Now, time, manpower and travel delay is saved because the camera can quickly and effectively identify problems so pipes can be fixed or replaced before failure occurs.
A camera of many uses
The equipment was “expensive but worth it,” says Jeff, because the camera is used during design, construction and maintenance.
“Design can be a big ordeal” when engineers don’t know where all the utility pipes are located under a planned roadway. The camera emits a radio signal that can be followed above ground to map the location of a pipe easily.
During construction, the camera helps workers decide which pipes need to be replaced or repaired and which can be left in place. Laser on the camera allows easy measurement of cracks and joints. The high quality video shows an accurate image of the pipe condition.
Maintenance workers use the camera to inspect pipes and clean up clogs. For example, irrigation water was flooding homes along Bear Lake Highway. Using the camera, UDOT workers found that a property owner had run electrical equipment through the drain pipe under the road, causing enough water back-up to flood homes.