A million-dollar futuristic-looking Caltrans car has been surveying Northstate highways, all while keeping roadside workers safe.
"It allows us to collect design data on the highway and the structures off the side of the highway without having any personnel physically on the pavement," explained John Lehti, the Caltrans worker who mans the computer system inside the Mobile Terrestrial Laser System.
"There's two lasers that collect data simultaneously, and there's 7 cameras on it," explained Lehti.
The MTLS machine collects highway data much quicker than any human surveyor ever could.
"It's faster. It can do things way quicker than we can do by hand, even with our data collectors and our instruments," said Lehti.
Lehti explained how the MTLS car can collect six miles worth of data in about 2 ½ 1/2 hours.
“For a field crew to do that, it would take them at least one to two months, to collect that same data," explained Lehti.
He said the MTLS has saved Caltrans District 2 more than $3.3 million in the past year of use. But the main focus of the tricked-out truck is safety for Caltrans workers and drivers.
"The biggest thing is keeping our guys out of the pavement. There's a real large safety factor both for us and the traveling public. If they react poorly to a man on the pavement, we could have an accident,” said Lehti.
The Caltrans Mobile Terrestrial Laser System will be scanning and surveying roads in Red Bluff the next week.