Wilmington, NC – The hollow rubber tubes currently stretched across Wilmington roadways cause only the slightest bump-bump when your tires cross them, but those lowly ropes are part of planning for Wilmington's future.
Traffic counts using the meters already reveal that opening of alternative routes has done little to relieve congestion on Market Street.
"There is a slight reduction in the number of trips on Market Street, 23rd Street, and Princess Place Drive," says Wilmington transportation planner Mike Kozlosky, "We think this can be attributed to the opening of the MLK Parkway as well as the Wilmington bypass."
However, Kozlosky says he doesn't have the data to compare the count to projections made while the new roads were being planned because those estimates used a different set of measurements.
Road Tube Technology
"The tubes are the sensors," Kent Taylor of the NC DOT explains. "Every axle hit creates an air pulse" that triggers a sensor box waiting on the roadside. The pneumatic system generates data not just about how many cars are on the road, but also about the speeds they're traveling.
Those axle counts, when divided by a formula estimating the ratio of cars and trucks on the roads, allow transportation planners to know how many vehicles are rolling on Wilmington streets. Kozlosky says the results will inform future development.
We use this data to make recommendations on site plans, subdivisions, re-zonings, Kozlosky said, as well as, we use this data to see whether particular roads are carrying more traffic than their designed capacity.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is also in the midst of its first Wilmington traffic survey in two years. Planners time these studies for spring and fall, when the tourist trade dies down and children are in school, to attempt the most average traffic flows possible.
Between the state and city, more than 400 pneumatic tubes are currently stretched across Wilmington roads.