I was running down Peck's Rd. in Pittsfield today when I noticed a Mass DOT truck and two workers putting down those two black cables that go from one side of the street to the other.

What are those things, anyway?

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I always thought they somehow measured your vehicle's speed and were to alert local law enforcement of speeding hotspots within the city. Well, I was half correct.

Those two black cables or "pneumatic road tubes" actually do more than just decipher speed, they gather a bunch of information.

One pneumatic tube can track the number of cars driving over a road in any given span of time. By measuring the time that passes between air bursts, officials can determine which time of day has the most traffic congestion. Two pneumatic tubes installed slightly apart from each other paint an even broader picture. Using this method, government agencies can gauge the class, speed, and direction of each vehicle that passes through. -mentalfloss.com

The information being recorded from the tubes will give data on the number of vehicles that pass over them, the size of the vehicle, the length (18 wheeler for example), the weight, and the speed at which the vehicles are traveling.

Sometimes the cables are installed for a short time, (24 hours), while others are left for a while.

Information that is collected can help state or city governments better improve roadways.

In related news, the Peck's road bridge roadwork is expected to start in the spring of 2022.

Peck's Rd.


Valentine Rd.

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