New Mexico DOT spent approximately $200,000 to deploy dust control systems in two safety critical locations along I-10.

Dust control systems can provide notifications to various stakeholders (NMDOT Maintenance and Dispatch Staff, Law Enforcement) when parameter values for wind speed or visibility are exceeded.

Made Public Date

In June 2012 USDOT finalized Version 3.0 of the Best Practices for Road Weather Management report. This report contains 27 case studies of systems in 22 states that improve roadway operations under inclement weather conditions. Each case study has six sections including a general description of the system, system components, operational procedures, resulting transportation outcomes, implementation issues, as well as contact information and references.

The previous report, Best Practices for Road Weather Management Version 2.0 presented 30 case studies from municipal and state transportation agencies. At this point, those solutions are either mainstreamed or have been surpassed by even better solutions. The Version 3.0 report captures the state-of-the-art, presenting 27 all-new practices that build upon these agencies’ previous successes.

One case study includes a dust control system in New Mexico. Dust storms occur quite frequently in New Mexico. They are the result of when powerful winds pick up large quantities of very dry (and thus, easy to particulate) exposed surface soil and obscures visibility. The low visibility detection system installed along Interstate 10 (I-10) at the southwest corner of New Mexico in what is called the La Playa Region (ancient dry lake bed). This stretch of I-10 is routinely closed due to dust storms, some of which have been fatal in the past. The system was installed at the end of 2011 as part of a technology transfer research project with New Mexico State University acting as the principal investigator.

The research project is ongoing and currently in the evaluation phase (expected to continue for two years). The purpose of the system is to work in a coordinated fashion with other ITS deployments along I-10 (Dynamic Message Signs [DMS], Closed Caption Televisions [CCTV], and Highway Advisory Radio [HAR]) to assist in incident management (including network surveillance and information dissemination) when dust storms occur. The scope of the installation is limited to the immediate vicinity of the La Playa Region at mile points 10 and 11 of I-10. The cost of two installations was approximately $200,000. The installations began in October and were completed in November of 2011.

System Components: The NMDOT La Playa RWIS system consists of the following specific equipment:

  • Ultrasonic Wind Sensor
  • Present Weather / Visibility Detector
  • Air Temperature and Humidity Sensor
  • Solar Radiation Shield
  • Barometric Pressure Sensor
  • Remote Processing Unit (Battery Backup)
  • 30-foot collapsible (folding) tower
  • Video Monitoring System
  • Wireless modems

System Operations: The system relies on a web-interface for access. Collected data includes:

  • Air Temperature
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Wind speed
  • Max Wind speed
  • Precipitation with rolling averages for 1, 3, 6, and 24 hours
  • Relative humidity
  • Visibility

The power service is via standard secondary power (no solar).

The System can provide notifications to various stakeholders (NMDOT Maintenance and Dispatch Staff, Law Enforcement) when parameter values for wind speed or visibility are exceeded. These notifications are used to place responders into high alert on the potential for dust storms. Should one occur, this system will be used in conjunction with traveler advisories via DMSs, HARs and 511 / Website and network surveillance systems at pre-determined closure points.

System Cost

Dust Control System - $200,000