You Ask, We Answer: Pneumatic Tubes

You Ask, We Answer: Pneumatic Tubes

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – If you’ve seen a black tube in the road lately and thought it was suspicious, you’re not the only one.

In fact, the City of Eau Claire Police Communication Center receives numerous calls about the tubes, but only every three years.

On this segment of ‘You Ask, We Answer’ we find what they are: Every three years, in the exact same spot, the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation puts a tube into the road that is then connected to a box.

Every time a vehicle drives over the tube, it sends an air pulse to the box, which collects data to send to the state.

“If there is one tube, the count is just counting the volume of traffic, if there is two tubes, they can be counting the volume of traffic along with classifying the vehicles,” said Leah Ness, City of Eau Claire’s Deputy Engineer.

Those numbers help the state see if road improvements are needed– like the thickness of the asphalt and surface design treatments.

Since statistics are taken every three years by the state, the tubes also register historical data like traffic increases over time.

Equipment for the traffic counters will be setup on Mondays and Tuesdays and data is collected Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The engineers behind the pneumatic counters will set up 40 counts a week.

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