If you see a slow-moving car cruising your neighborhood, check for a “RoadBotics” emblem before reporting it as suspicious. It may be part of an innovative new road assessment program that Bulloch County officials believe may solve a lot of road issues and save a lot of tax dollars.
Brad Deal, Bulloch County engineer, said the RoadBotics program, which the county just began using, will enable county leaders to “use objective road condition data from the infrastructure technology company to assess damages and make repairs to the 562 miles of paved roads in the county.”
RoadBotics uses drivers in passenger cars that travel over every paved road, from end to end, using a smartphone and GPS system to inspect the roads, as well as create maps showing where and what types of repairs are needed, he said.
Bulloch County chose the company because it is one of “the leading road monitoring technology companies” that will scan the entire road network and will “provide Bulloch County officials with an interactive map that will help them develop effective plans to repair and maintain local roads in the most time- and cost-effective way possible.”
After researching many options, Bulloch County commissioners decided RoadBotics would be the most cost-effective and valuable option.
“The technology used by RoadBotics allows them to perform the road assessments at a fraction of the cost of other methods the county has used in the past,” Deal said.
Based in Pittsburgh, the civic tech company has deployed certified drivers to drive down every paved road in a passenger car. The process has already begun, so residents may spot one of the cars cruising slowly down their roads.
Right now, the program addresses only paved roadways.
Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said the program will give commissioners a more thorough and accurate report of road conditions.
“We have people call all the time about certain roads,” but that method doesn’t give the full picture, he said.
The program is funded by money from the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax county residents voted on last year, he said.
“It will be helpful in keeping the roads maintained and get rid of damages such as potholes,” said Bulloch County Commissioner Timmy Rushing.
Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch is very supportive of the RoadBotics program as well.
“I am very excited about it,” he said.
After viewing videos on the company’s website, he was impressed.
He said he appreciates the GIS system that shows actual road conditions, because it “is not as labor intensive or as costly.”
The computer views all data and identifies road surface damage such as potholes or cracks “with unprecedented precision, speed and accuracy,” Deal said.
“The road assessment data will be shown on a map of the county, which will assist our county and elected officials in making objective decisions regarding our road maintenance and resurfacing program.”
He said having all of the data on one central map allows county staff to compare conditions on different roads throughout the county and “will be a useful tool that we never had (before).”
Couch said the RoadBotics method will take a couple months to make a complete assessment and will cost around $45,000, as opposed to other methods that would cost at least twice that amount.
This frees up funding that can be used in actual repairs, Deal said.
“We are excited about hiring RoadBotics because they can provide us with an overall comprehensive assessment of our paved road system that will help us efficiently identity and prioritize how and where we will spend tax dollars allocated for resurfacing,” he said.
Couch said the program is expected to begin within days.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.