Research Projects | Completed Projects

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14-05: Snow Removal Performance Metrics

Problem

Winter maintenance performance measurement and establishment of service standards are essential ingredients for DOTs in benchmarking success. All state DOTs measure their snow removal success in some way or another, but measures are often inconsistent and it’s difficult to determine if existing measures are accurately assessing the success of winter maintenance programs. In 2007, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) undertook a comprehensive study of performance measures and processes. The results were published in NCHRP Web-Only Document 136: Performance Measures for Snow and Ice Control Operations. The information in that report needs to be updated.

Objective

The objective is to identify and understand the snow removal performance metrics currently in use by the snow and ice states. Clear Roads wants to know how snow and ice states are measuring their accomplishments and how they are communicating their levels of success both internally and externally. Further, Clear Roads would like to identify commonalities and differences between agencies in order to develop a matrix of performance measures, which can be used by agencies to assist them in achieving their winter maintenance goals.

Expected Results

A matrix of snow removal performance measures, along with recommendations for scoping a Phase 2 project, which will help agencies develop and implement a performance measurement program.

The final webinar took place June 30, 2016.

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12-04: Snowplow Operator and Supervisor Training

Problem

Every state provides some training for snowplow operators and supervisors. However, each training program has elements that are strong and elements that are weak. Clear Roads has identified the best and most extensive training materials from all its member states and partners, but needs help organizing these materials into classroom courses that could be utilized by any Clear Roads state.

Objective

The purpose of this project is to develop a series of flexible training modules for snowplow operators and supervisors that could be used, modified, and updated by any of the Clear Roads member agencies to serve as partial day or multiple day classroom-style training courses.

Results

The key outcomes of the project are presentations, course guides, exams and other training support materials for the topics identified in the List of Modules and Descriptions under Final Products on the right side of this page.

The webinar was conducted on February 3, 2017.

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15-03: North American Study on Contracting Snow and Ice Response

Problem

Transportation agencies are faced with many challenges, including reduced funding, an aging and decreased fleet size, increased maintenance costs, staffing reductions, and pressure to outsource or contract traditional “in-house” functions. These challenges require agencies to continually investigate and evaluate the most effective practices for managing resources required for winter maintenance operations.

Objective

The objective of this project was to gain an understanding of the state of the practice in contracting for snow and ice control by state DOTs. Investigators documented the costs, benefits, practices and complexities associated with contracting to perform snow and ice control functions.

Results

The analysis conducted through this project provides states with the information needed to modify and improve their own snow and ice control contracting practices to save money and better manage resources.

The final webinar presentation was given on December 28, 2016.

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14-04: Plug-and-Play Initiative: Phase II

Problem

Clear Roads has been leading a collaborative effort called the Plug-and-Play Initiative to develop a universal bi-directional communications protocol for in-cab electronics, regardless of the manufacturer or service provider. Establishment of this protocol will mutually benefit Clear Roads member states and their vendors by standardizing how critical operational data are shared on modern snow and ice vehicles, namely between compatible Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) devices and anti-icing/deicing joystick and spreader controller systems.

Within the next year, Test bed software will be developed to verify compatibility with the previously developed protocol. This software will be hosted by Clear Roads and available free of charge to vendors. After completion of the software, Clear Roads plans to test the protocol. It is then intended for member states to start using it in procurement.

This Phase II project identified a standard protocol for the transmission of data from a vehicle to a point location.

Objective

This project built on the efforts of both the Plug-and-Play Initiative and the Connected Vehicle Project to define a standardized set of data (attributes and units of measure) available from winter operations equipment and then identified the standards for the transmission of data from vehicle to point location.

Results

This project identified the most appropriate standard protocols and made recommendations regarding the method of transmission.

The final webinar presentation was given on November 7, 2016.

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14-07: Identifying Best Practices for Snowplow Route Optimization

Problem

Roadway snow and ice control (RSIC) constitutes a substantial expenditure for many northern and Midwestern states throughout the winter and spring months. Properly maintaining the roadways in these states involves complicated decisions regarding the staging, routing, and refueling of the RSIC vehicle fleets that are responsible for plowing roadways and spreading chemicals and abrasives. Optimizing statewide RSIC operations includes three distinct problems: 1) how best to divide the network into service territories, 2) how best to allocate RSIC vehicles among these territories, and 3) how best to route RSIC vehicles within the various divisions. Agencies also want to assess facility locations to identify opportunities for greater efficiency.

Objective

The purpose of this project is to identify the best practices at state agencies for route optimization and facility placement, including the use of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software.

Expected Results

This project will provide a synthesis, including a straightforward comparison matrix that illustrates the pros and cons of the RSIC optimization efforts that have been undertaken by winter maintenance organizations to date. Given the potential cost savings associated with optimization of RSIC operations, state DOTs in snow states stand to reap considerable benefits by optimizing their snowplow routing.

The final webinar presentation was given on November 1, 2016.

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14-01: Synthesis on GPS/AVL Equipment Used for Winter Maintenance

Problem

Many states are interested in testing or implementing GPS/AVL systems to gather information on their winter maintenance programs, including truck location, truck speeds, material usage rates, etc. There are a variety of tools and equipment involved in these systems, including truck controllers, data collection devices, cell phone or Wi-Fi, plow sensors, and data schemas that allow synthesis of the range of data collected. Clear Roads members would like to better understand the array of options on the market.

Objective

To help states better understand the options available (systems and components) for varying situations and truck configurations, this project sought to develop a clearinghouse of information based on state experiences with GPS/AVL.

Results

The key outcome of this project was to develop a “consumer reports” type of digest analyzing the different GPS/AVL systems available, including how well each one performs, and systems requirements and constraints.

The final webinar presentation was given on May 23, 2016.

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13-02: Understanding the Effectiveness of Non-Chloride Liquid Agricultural By-Products and Solid Complex Chloride/Mineral Products Used in Snow and Ice Control Operations

Problem

It has become increasingly common to use agricultural by-products and solid complex chloride/mineral products as additives to deicer products for corrosion inhibition and performance enhancement, or as stand-alone treatments for ice and snow prevention. Manufacturer claims made about these products include freeze depressant qualities, ability to prolong performance of deicers on the road surface, the ability to attract and utilize UV light as an aid to ice prevention, and various environmental benefits. However, the effectiveness of these products and the mechanism by which they work are not well documented.

Potential users need quantifiable research to validate performance and verify the chemical or physical processes by which the products are of value in winter maintenance. This information will also aid agencies in developing better procurement specifications that address the most important attributes for the various product types.

Objective

The goal of this project was to determine and document the effectiveness of nine commonly-used non-chloride liquid agricultural by-products and one well-known solid complex chloride/mineral product used in snow and ice control operations. The results will improve the industry’s understanding of the performance and environmental impact of these chemicals. The project included development of better parameters and guidelines for using such products and specifications for the procurement and testing of these products.

Results

The final report contains a Best Practices Manual, which includes the following:

  • Parameters for effective use of agricultural and mineral by-products based on analysis of the existing literature, survey responses, and lab testing.
  • Specifications that can be used in procurement for each product. The specifications will document the measurable properties of the material that are indicators of field performance.
  • Application and storage guidelines.

The final webinar presentation was given on November 19, 2015.

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14-10: Roadway Salt Best Management Practices

Problem

The 2013-2014 winter season proved to be challenging to roadway maintenance authorities; even before the winter season was officially over, salt stock piles and winter maintenance budgets had been severely depleted. The purpose of this project was to investigate the problems and successes of state DOTs in dealing with the salt shortages that occurred and to develop a best practices handbook that can be used to guide agencies in the best practices.

Objective

The goal of this project was to investigate and analyze issues related to deicing chemical supplies during the winter of 2013-2014. The investigation covered the available supply of deicing chemicals with a primary focus on road salt. The project identified where there were problems and why the problems existed. The goal was to have this project completed before the start of the winter of 2015-2016 so the best practices can influence operations during the winter as well as procurement and other logistics in the winters to come.

Results

A manual of best practices for procurement, storage, and use of salt.

This project was featured in an article in the October 2016 issue of APWA Reporter magazine.

The final presentation webinar took place on December 11, 2015.

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14-06: Use Of Equipment Lighting During Snowplow Operations

Problem

Many states are struggling to find the right balance between making trucks as visible to the traveling public as possible and ensuring that their drivers have the best possible visibility of the road and vehicles around them. Equipment operators in the snowy regions are reporting that warning lights are too bright, especially for plow truck drivers following behind another truck during train-type snow removal operations. Additionally, snowplow operators are experiencing reflected light off the plow from headlights on their own vehicles. Research is needed to determine the best practices and optimal configurations of headlights, work lights, and warning light technology during snow removal operations.

Objective

The goal of this project was to develop a synthesis of best practices in use today by state DOTs in their use of headlights, work lights, and warning light technology in snow plow operations.

Results

A synthesis report of best practices that presents the pros and cons of different types of lights, lighting configurations and technology in use currently by agencies engaged in winter maintenance activities. The synthesis includes a recommended lighting package with sample specifications and mounting location guidelines.

Final presentation webinar was conducted on October 5, 2015.

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13-03: Cost-Benefit of Various Winter Maintenance Strategies

Problem

When responding to winter storm events, state transportation departments are faced with many decisions regarding which winter maintenance strategies to employ. These choices impact the level of service, the overall cost to the department and to highway users, and safety. Different strategies provide different results in terms of the road surface condition and mobility for the highway user.

DOTs seeking to minimize costs to both the agency and the driving public are constantly seeking to optimize their winter maintenance strategies. Cost considerations for the agency include (but are not limited to) the costs of plowing and applying abrasives or chemicals, the economic impact of adjusting level of service relative to public mobility, and the cost of chemical corrosion and abrasive wear on application equipment, highway infrastructure, and the personal property of highway users. Safety is also a critical consideration.

Agencies need a way to determine which strategies will allow them to most effectively deliver the appropriate level of service for a given roadway while supporting strategic goals of both safety and economy.

Objective

The goal of this project was to assess and communicate the costs and benefits of three different winter maintenance strategies in the following areas:

  • Agency cost to achieve and maintain a level of service
  • Economic impacts, such as the mobility cost impacts on highway users due to the level of service delivered
  • Impacts of corrosion on highway equipment, users, and infrastructure
  • Impact of abrasive wear and tear on highway equipment, users, and infrastructure
  • Safety impacts of changes to level of service

Results

A matrix of strategies and impacts that is concisely and clearly written for a broad audience of stakeholders, including winter maintenance professionals, DOT management, legislators and the public.

The final presentation webinar was held on September 17, 2015.

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