Mexico residents can see how the city has changed in the past seven years with an aerial photography project to update city maps.

Surdex Corp. of Chesterfield took the aerial photos for $15,500. They will be used by city employees to update map data and will aid with wastewater inspections, floodplain administration, map creation, stormwater administration and construction quantity estimation.

“Surdex is a very good company. They responded extremely well to all of the questions we had and any kind of concerns we had,” Mexico City Engineer Drew Williford said.

The company is part of the cooperative procurement program through the state, which along with the bid, is how the city learned about the company. The procurement program allows eligible local governments and other political entities to participate in a cooperative purchasing program with the state.

“(Surdex) flew some of the flooding photography in Jefferson City and some of those counties down there just recently,” Williford said.

The city entered into the photography contract in January, but had a short window in which to accomplish the photography due to snow and ice. The contract ran through March 15 and included requirements there be no snow on the ground and no leaves on trees.

The last time the city had aerial photography conducted was in 2012, and both minor and major changescan been seen in the photos from the seven-year timeframe.

The aerial photography is most often used by the city’s public works department for estimations on how much asphalt or concrete is needed for a particular road project, Williford said. It also limits the need for more detailed surveys when the city just needs a general distance measurement. If more detailed measurements are needed, the city still has survey equipment at its disposal.

“[The photography] is really handy for us and then we provide it out there for the general public to use,” Williford said.

The city also is working with the Audrain County Assessor’s office to integrate parcel data for tax purposes. Other map layers include zoning and trash schedules.

“We’re trying to streamline some of those things so we’re all working with the same data and same resources available,” Williford said about map and parcel data. “We don’t encourage people to use it as a survey grade because the line work isn’t accurate enough for that, but if you’re wondering about generally speaking, it can be used to kind of give an idea of where right-of-ways are at.”

The map is available through the city website through the “Quick Links” at the bottom of the page. From there you can toggle between photos if you select either “2019 3-inch Imagery” or “2012 4-inch Imagery” from the “Show Layers” menu.

“It worked out pretty well where [Surdex] was able to get a good flyover on a day that the weather cooperated and everything turned out extremely well,” Williford said.

The 2019 photography from Surdex is a higher resolution photo. Since the aerial photography has allowed the city to update its map data, it also will be able to work toward implementing rolling five-year plans for improvement projects such as roads and sidewalks. 

The city will be better able to communicate the scope of work with utility companies thanks to the updated photos and data, Williford said.

The city will evaluate when scheduled aerial photography flyovers will happen, Williford said. The county does flyovers every other year, but they need the most up-to-date photography and map data due to taxing purposes, he said.

“I don’t think we’ll end up doing it that frequently,” Williford said. “We haven’t talked about it internally at all yet.”

 cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com