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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