In an effort to make sure its new road construction meets specifications, the Mexican state of Coahuila has turned to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) for help in obtaining a ground penetrating radar (GPR)-equipped vehicle. Officials from Coahuila took possession of the system June 4. TTI also trained Mexican transportation personnel to operate the system and its software, COLORMAP and PAVECHECK. The software was developed by researchers at TTI lead by Tom Scullion, manager of TTI’s Flexible Pavements Program.
GPR is a nondestructive geophysical method that “sees” underground and produces a record of subsurface features-without drilling, probing, digging or coring. Since 1988, researchers at TTI have been developing, testing and implementing GPR technology for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to use in its road repair and maintenance activities. GPR can monitor changes in layer thickness of pavements and detect areas of either trapped moisture or air voids beneath the roadways. Keeping track of these factors is vital to efficient roadway maintenance.
“We are receiving worldwide interest in GPR,” Scullion says. “An official from the Malaysian government visited just a week ago to take a look at our Texas system.” Scullion acknowledges TxDOT’s efforts to spread the word about GPR as being a big reason for the technology’s growing popularity.
“We are excited about having GPR in Mexico,” said Ricardo de León , Coahuila’s verification director. “It will allow us to inspect new and old roads very quickly, and will save us time and money.” De León says the GPR vehicle cost his government $82,000, but will more than pay for itself in the long run.