To beat the rising cost of road salt, the Indiana Department of Transportation is turning to technology in hopes of extending salt supplies and save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.
INDOT has installed a computer system in about 125 of its trucks statewide to help calculate how much road salt is needed to combat slick conditions on a particular stretch of road.
"It is designed to improve effectiveness and efficiency of snow removal operations," said Debbie Calder, of INDOT.
Trucks are equipped with touch-screen monitors, which allow drivers to enter road condition data such as air and pavement temperature, humidity, wind speed and precipitation. INDOT managers via the Internet can access all of the information loaded into the program.
INDOT will be able to monitor streaming video from a camera mounted on the windshield of equipped trucks. Drivers in other areas can also see the conditions fellow drivers are encountering.
The idea is to allow more accurate determinations of when trucks need to be sent out to treat roads.
This year an estimated 60,000 tons of salt -- at a price of $60 per ton -- will be used in this district.
"We are looking to cut down costs everywhere," said Calder. "It is another tool."
The technology costs approximately $2,000 per truck and already installed in one truck per unit across the state.
At the end of the year, the cost savings will be reviewed and a plan developed for other trucks.
The program is currently under study in 14 other states.
Calder said, right now there is no anticipation for any problems with salt supply.