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GIS mapping of 50,000-km of Indian national highway to be completed by 2009

New Delhi, India, 8 December 2006 – The Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) is hopeful of completing the GIS mapping of 50,000 km of India’s national highways by mid-2009.

“We are hoping to finish the GIS survey and mapping of 50,000 km of the 65,000 km of national highway in the country by mid-2009,” said Mr. B.M. Sharma, a scientist with CRRI, a premier institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The 15,000 km of the highway being excluded from the survey are projects under the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

The GIS survey and a GPS for better navigation across India are two major projects underway for better road freight management and improving the driving experience. For the GIS survey, the government has allocated Rs.100 million (USD 2.2 million), said Sharma.

To implement the survey, CRRI has acquired a sophisticated network survey vehicle called Hawkeye from the ARRB Group Ltd, formerly the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), for $395,090 (Rs.16 million).

Mounted on a Tata Sumo, the Hawkeye instrumentation system that includes a laser profiler and pavement view cameras will be used for measuring road surface, collecting and processing digital images of pavements and other roadside assets.

“The vehicle, being equipped to process the data and images collected on board and in the office, will help to reduce the cost of manually surveying roads and roadside assets,” said Garren Warren, the General Manager of ARRB’s technology division.

Being used in countries like China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Warren said the Hawkeye deployment has resulted in Indonesia changing its highway map after the original was found inaccurate by the GIS survey.

Prior to winning the Hawkeye order, ARRB – through its Indian associate Taisei International – had presented CRRI with a handheld Roughometre, which is a more affordable alternative to the laser profiling equipment besides being useful for use in rural areas and other regions where the new equipment cannot be used.

CRRI is in the process of assessing its utility and performance before acquiring an additional handheld Roughometre. The Hawkeye requires high-speed paved roads for operation and is sensitive to rough weather conditions like dust storms and heavy rains. It can gather data while traveling at a speed of 30-100 km per hour.

An advantage Hawkeye enjoys over other instruments with CRRI is its ability to look at the surface of the road and measure cracking areas. “Any area with a crack of above three centimeters should be sealed as a timely preventive measure to extend the life of a highway, which is normally around 20 years in the case of bitumen roads. As a general rule, this is not happening,” said Sharma. Sharma said Indian roads were currently in a better state than two decades ago.

“Over 80-90 percent of the highways constructed under the Golden Quadrilateral project of 55,000 km are comparable to world class constructing standards,” he added. Overall 55 percent of the national highways are in good condition while in the case of Delhi, about 60 percent was found in good state, according to a survey done in 2003.