Construction Report: Weather Stations installed in Fairbanks to improve road maintenance

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 5:43 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Department of Transportation is tasked with maintaining state roads. In the summer they work to repair and rebuild roads, and in the winter they focus on keeping them safe for drivers by removing snow and ice. To do this, DOT uses a wide array of resources and tools. This summer, the DOT has installed three new weather stations in the Fairbanks area to assist in their job.

“We have these things all over the state. What they do primarily is help our maintenance people make smart, data informed decisions about how to maintain the roads, especially during the winter,” said Northern Region Information Officer Caitlin Frye.

The stations uses a variety of sensors to measure things like air temperature, pavement temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, and air pressure. They can use this data to make better decisions.

“Once we get it up and running and we are able to see that data, we will be able to make real time, quick decisions on maintenance without having to leave the office. We will be able to do it quickly and really increase the quality of our maintenance,” Frye said.

The new stations will increase the current network of weather stations already in Alaska’s Interior. These stations are also equipped with cameras that take photos a few times an hour to provide a live look at the weather in a location.

“The camera is used by our maintenance staff just like all the other data, but the camera is also going to eventually feed into our 5-1-1 system so drivers can look at the camera to get an idea about road conditions before they leave their house,” she said.

All of the information collected from the stations are publicly available.

“This is publicly available data so we share it with other agencies around the state, including the National Weather Service, UAF uses this data, and then also drivers can look at this data as well.”

Frye said that one of the new stations they installed was on Ballaine Hill in response to concern from residents in the area that the area was neglected in the winter. Frye said they believe there may be a micro-climate in the area and this new station will help them understand the area and ensure they are able to take care of the road.

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