Taking stock of Topeka's streets

Short and sweet #topekatweetalong featuring our street condition inventory project with Stantec


  1. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this strange van that's been out on Topeka streets since Saturday is not, in fact, Google.
  2. Or Big Brother, for that matter.
  3. But that doesn't mean you can't wave at the crew. They are doing something pretty important for you: Taking an inventory of our street conditions. We'll use this inventory to make decisions about street maintenance projects AND publish on our website -- so you can check the condition rating of any street you'd like.
  4. For the next month, the crew will be driving their big, strange van, around Topeka, taking stock of every one of our 1,500 lane miles.
  5. The van is a Road Tester 3000, and it's as tech-y as it sounds. It uses mobile laser, GPS and crack recognition technology to capture pavement conditions while it's driving. It has a 360 camera on top, too, so it can take images of our rights of way, street signs, fire hydrants, etc.
  6. Here's how it works:
  7. The company, Stantec, will take that data into an inventory of Topeka streets using the industry standard Pavement Condition Index. This index rates streets on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being the best.
  8. Knowing the PCI of a road helps us identify what fix is needed (mill and overlay vs full depth replacement, for example), and how soon it needs to be fixed. Here's Public Works Director Jason Peek with more on that:
  9. Understanding what work needs to be done and in what order helps us plan construction projects, and explain to you why we're doing one street instead of another. Here's Peek again, answering a question we get a lot:
  10. Driving and documenting the condition of Topeka streets should take another three weeks (Stantec has been here since Saturday). The two-man crew will cover 30 to 40 miles of streets each day, six days a week, weather permitting.
  11. The post process, in which the company translates that data into the PCI, will take at last another week.
  12. What does that mean to you?
  13. Once it's all done, you'll be able to see for yourself the condition of Topeka's streets. We'll have a map of the data up on our website, topeka.org, this fall. So anytime you wonder the condition of a street and how it compares to others in the City, you can view it, knowing its based on objective, sophisticated data.
  14. The cost to rate all of our streets is $116,000, Peek said.
  15. I got to ride in the van while Stantec worked its equipment.
  16. The backseat contains a lot of computers that capture the data as they move. Pretty neat set up.