Route and Site Characterization Using Multi-Spectral Satellite Imagery

Transportation agencies spend enormous sums of money each year in assessing the appropriateness of alternative highway alignments or other transportation related construction sites, both from the standpoint of constructability and environmental impact. These assessments could be simplified and more focused if planners possessed a screening tool that could graphically illustrate surface and subsurface features such as potential wetland areas, springs and seeps, slope instabilities, etc. over a wide geographical area. The technology exists to create such a screening tool by analyzing the ground's reflectance and adsorption of the non-visible light spectrum. However, the interpretation of this spectral imagery must be calibrated to known conditions before it can be useful for the prediction of ground features. This calibration process has not been done for the State of Arkansas, but the data currently exists as a result of previous MBTC projects to do it for limited areas within the state. Once various important ground features are identified from spectral imagery they can be incorporated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) along with other cultural socio-economic and political attributes to create a robust planning tool for transportation related construction projects.