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'Smart pavement' could save lives on US 285, CDOT says

CDOT is partnering with Integrated Roadways, a company based in Kansas City, Missouri that's developed "smart pavement." The precast concrete panels are embedded with upgradable digital technology

KUSA – Kristin Hopkins’ survival story is an incredible one.

Four years ago, her car went off the road at U.S. 285 just outside of Fairplay. Her car rolled more than 120 feet down the embankment. She waited at least five days for help to arrive. Hopkins lost both of her feet as a result of the crash.

Now, the Colorado Department of Transportation is investing in new road technology that could have sensed the crash and called for help sooner. CDOT is partnering with Integrated Roadways, a company based in Kansas City, Missouri that’s developed “smart pavement.” The precast concrete panels are embedded with upgradable digital technology. Sensors built into the pavement could communicate with cars.

“The pavement would know where their tires are, how fast they’re moving and the direction that those tires are going,” said Peter Kozinski, director of CDOT’s RoadX Program. “That piece of pavement can notify us if someone left that pavement at a speed, trajectory that suggests they may have ran off the road unsafely.”

CDOT is working on a $2.75 million contract with Integrated Roadways to install a half-mile section of smart pavement on U.S. 285 at Red Hill Pass. It’s the same spot where Kristin Hopkins’ car went off the road.

“There’s a series of quick switchbacks on it, so it’s right on those switchbacks that we’re proposing this,” Kozinski said.

Installing the white, concrete slabs will cost about 1.5 to 1.7 times as much as a typical pavement project, Kozinski said.

“Given the fact that we have a known run-off-the-road problem here, we think it’s a very sound investment and a good opportunity to keep our constituents safer,” he said.

Before the concrete slabs are installed on U.S. 285, CDOT wants to test a few of them out on Brighton Boulevard near 39th Street. If all goes well, construction could begin on U.S. 285 in late summer or early fall.

Money for the potential project would come from CDOT’s RoadX budget, which is a combination of state and federal dollars.