SOUTH BEND — At the corner of Eddy and Cedar streets, during a lull in the dismal weather last week, 23-year-old Bradley Tener pointed up at a small white contraption strapped to the overhanging traffic signal pole.
“That’s our newest model,” Tener said, explaining the capabilities of the infrared camera that can measure road temperature, air temperature, dew point and humidity.
Originally from the Lake Tahoe area at the northern California- Nevada border, where snow is often measured in feet rather than inches, Tener knows severe winter weather well.
And using a series of infrared cameras at intersections throughout South Bend, he’s hoping to collect data that will help save the city money on de-icing and save lives by improving road treatment during the winter months.
It was during his time as an engineering undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame that Tener realized how much of an impact sensors can have on road treatment and de-icing during the winter.
“The big thing with road temperatures is that if road temps drop, your salt starts to become less effective,” Tener said. “But cities really don’t have a handle on road temperatures because units are way too expensive.”
Tener said current prices for a Road Weather Information System, or RWIS, can exceed $20,000 per unit, and in a city the size of South Bend, he estimated that the ideal number of sensors would be around 30.