By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service
LANSING — If Michigan ever gears up to fix its crumbling roads, engineers might be well-served to consider a new ingredient in the road-making mix. It’s a sensor developed by Michigan State University, and it could have a big impact on road budgets and repairs nationwide. The sensor records traffic data and measures impacts and damage to roads. It communicates that information to engineers who can use the data to fix roads before they become seriously damaged — making maintenance significantly easier and cheaper. “If you’re trying to detect something in the roads, you have to do it at the bottom of the road — you cannot do it only at the surface because once the damage has reached the surface, it’s kind of too late,” said Nizar Lajnef, the MSU assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering who oversees the project.