When is the road too rough when it comes to driving to Thanksgiving dinner?

     PennDOT's Keith Zeglin drives southbound on Columbus Boulevard to test the road for roughness.  (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    PennDOT's Keith Zeglin drives southbound on Columbus Boulevard to test the road for roughness. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    If you’re traveling this Thanksgiving you might hear a lot of complaints about how horrible the roads are in Pennsylvania.

    Thanksgiving is considered one of the busiest travel days of the year. If you’re traveling you might hear a lot of complaints about how horrible the roads are in Pennsylvania. And if you’re curious like us you might find yourself asking: just how bad are the roads in Pennsylvania?

    Recently we rode along with one of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s road crews in Philadelphia to see how they test and measure the roughness of state-owned roads.

    The crew uses a customized van, called a profiler, equipped with lasers and a computer system that measures the roughness of the roads.

    On our test ride, pavement specialist Octavio Acevedo and driver Keith Zeglin drove on a segment of Christopher Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia.

    The sensors on the van measure every bump, pot hole, and train track the vehicle drives over and come up with a rating based on the International Roughness Index.  

    international roughness index 1200

    Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

    An acceptable rating of roughness ranges from around 40 to 100. Anything registering more than 100 means the road is in bad shape, says Acevedo.

    The result for the section of Columbus Boulevard we tested was between 173 and 374, in the fair to poor range. (So if that’s your route to Thanksgiving dinner, don’t carry the gravy on your lap.)

    Once a section of road is tested, the data is processed and analyzed by PennDOT.

    The evaluation process helps PennDOT keep a pulse on the condition of the roads and helps to determine what treatment or repairs might be needed said spokesperson Erin Waters-Trasatt.

    According to the PennDOT, 44 percent of Pennsylvania’s state owned roads are in fair or poor condition.

     

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