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What are the large green boxes, often grouped in threes, along Interstate 40?

Ken Little

Those large boxes are the property of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Hydraulics Unit. They’re green in more ways than one.

“The boxes along I-40 are enclosures for automated water quality sampling equipment. This is part of an ongoing research program to study the pollutant removal efficiencies of roadside swales,” DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Garifo says. A swale by any other name is known as a ditch.

“We are monitoring water as it runs off the surface of the road and to the swale to characterize pollutant loads,” Garifo says. “The objective of the research study is to identify how roadside swales can be improved to enhance pollutant removal and better protect the environment.”

Boxes can be found at four research locations along I-40 east of Raleigh. When it rains, the equipment inside is programmed to automatically take a sample, Garifo says.

The (DOT) has a contract with N.C, State University to perform the research “and provide engineering recommendations to enhance the roadside swales for improved environmental protection,” Garifo says.

The DOT has been sampling and collecting rainfall data for several years. The study will be completed in 2010.

User-contributed question by:
Nancy Moore

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