Pat Shingleton: "Weather and Roads..."
Most often the conversations in Baton Rouge involve two subjects: Weather and Traffic. Occasionally, on my traffic reports at 4:00 PM and when the traffic jams the Interstate, I will comment to Brittany Weiss that it might be best to take alternate routes. I suggest fictitious routes that include the Parkway East and West, the North and Southbound Loops and the Chunnel. The Chunnel is a tunnel, similar to Mobile Bay that connects LSU and Plaquemine. There is another fictitious road in Virginia, named the Smart Road. The road is located a few miles from the Virginia Tech campus in rural southwest Virginia. This stretch of road is 2.2 miles-long and goes nowhere. It was originally constructed in the 1980s and is a unique, state-of-the-art, closed test-bed research facility. Weatherwise Magazine reports that the road is managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, maintained by the state's Department of Transportation. The road is a laboratory for testing new transportation technologies. A half-mile portion of the road sports towers that rise 25 feet above that road and are capable of spewing rain, fog and snow to create extreme weather conditions for vehicle testing. The Smart Road creates its own weather by using a 500,000-gallon water tank situated under the road equipt with a 400-horsepower pump that pressurizes the water into feed towers. Two, 700-horsepower, three-stage centrifugal air compressors generate compressed air for fog and snow-making applications. Additional tower hoses can generate an inch to two and a half inches of rain per hour. Super-atomized water is injected into the air and cascades humidity, creating fog. Typical nozzles atomize the water, creating snow. Computerized vehicles will contribute in monitoring road conditions during simulated weather situations.