North Carolina's Transportation Department is using analytics software to build roads faster and for less money while minimizing environmental disruption.
NCDOT is analyzing geographic data to help narrow the choices of possible road corridors and, at the same time, is able to reduce costly land surveys. The process can save $500,000 per project and shave 20 percent off the time needed to select and plan a road, according to North Carolina officials.
NCDOT and the North Carolina Division of Water Quality are working collaboratively on the project, using SAS Analytics as the engine to analyze volumes of geographic data.
Planners need to protect water sources as they assess transportation projects. As a result, they have to propose ways to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. Road builders often verify geographical surveys by sending surveyors and water quality experts into the field to document streams and wetlands. However, a large project, such as a bypass, requires substantial time and manpower to survey thousands of acres in order to identify environmental issues.
"You might have hundreds of possible combinations for one road,'' said Morgan Weatherford, environmental program consultant with NCDOT's Natural Environmental Section. "It's a major challenge to comply with federal and state environmental regulations in a manner that is beneficial for the environment and taxpayers as well."