WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Contractors with the Tennessee Department of Transportation were out laser scanning a section of Interstate 40 in Wilson County on Thursday.
The surveyors were gathering precise data after an unusually high number of crashes in a one-mile stretch, specifically during rainy weather.
They were using state-of-the-art scanning equipment known as LiDAR, Light Detection and Ranging.
It’s the same technology used to replace a bridge in Cocke County and to help accurately construct the Fast Fix 8 project in downtown Nashville.
Joey Wilson of Wilson and Associates is the contractor doing the laser scanning. He told News 2 the equipment being used is able to examine the road with much greater detail than traditional survey methods.
“Traditional methods would only gather a few hundred points of data. Today, we will gather of 400 million points of data,” he said.
According to Lebanon police, when it rains on I-40 in Wilson County, the interstate can pond, especially around mile marker 230 in Lebanon.
Cpl. PJ Hardy told News 2 there have been 26 weather-related crashes in that one area in the last six months, half of which resulted in injuries.
“We don’t have any other location in our jurisdiction with that number of incidents in that short distance,” Hardy said.
He told News 2 many of the reports specifically reference hydroplaning and ponding water.
BJ Doughty with TDOT told News 2 they first learned of the reported issue on March 1.
“Since then, our safety office has been working to gather the crash data and will analyze that as part of our work,” she explained. “In addition, this week we began conducting a high tech survey of the roadway to help us identify what exactly is causing the problem in this location.”
Doughty said while she doesn’t want to speculate on the exact root cause, but one possibility is that there could be a section of earth underneath the pavement that has settled.
The LiDAR survey data should be back to TDOT by next Wednesday, and then it will take about a week to analyze it.