Meetings and Events
National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange
In collaboration with the Aurora pooled fund and the AASHTO Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program, Clear Roads will host the fifth National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange September 23–25, in Bloomington, Minnesota. The peer exchange, held every two years, offers winter maintenance professionals from the three sponsoring organizations, and invited guests and vendors, an opportunity to share information, learn about current efforts and new technologies, and generate new research ideas and initiatives. Work continues on 158 research problem statements developed at previous exchanges. Details.
Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting
The Transportation Research Board will hold its 95th Annual Meeting January 10–14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The meeting is expected to attract more than 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world. It will include spotlight sessions, workshops and discussions on all aspects of transportation research and its deployment. After the meeting, Clear Roads will compile a listing of papers presented that are related to winter maintenance. Details.
International Conference and Workshop on Winter Maintenance and Surface Transportation Weather
The Transportation Research Board’s Committees on Winter Maintenance and Surface Transportation Weather are organizing a joint conference of the Ninth International Symposium on Snow Removal and Ice Control Technology and the Sixth National Conference on Surface Transportation Weather. The conference will be held online, with presentations recorded in February 2016 and available on-demand after. An in-person workshop will be held in Colorado in April 2016. The Conference is accepting submissions through September 1. Details.
Three Cities Win APWA Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award
Columbus, Ohio; Lenexa, Kansas; and Waconia, Minnesota received the American Public Works Association’s Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award at the 2015 APWA North American Snow Conference in April. Columbus was recognized for its snow and ice control plan, while Lenexa constructed two salt storage facilities that greatly increased capacity and reduced the need to replenish salt during major storms. Waconia made significant changes to its winter maintenance practices to reduce chloride use, and created a “Green Fleet Team” to discuss equipment needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Download APWA Reporter for details; see page 8.
Ontario Develops New Winter Maintenance Plan
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has released a new action plan for winter maintenance in response to the Auditor General’s Special Report on Winter Highway Maintenance. The plan addresses eight recommendations made by the Auditor General related to equipment, materials, road condition reporting and contracting. MTO says that the plan includes immediate actions that will be in place during the 2015-16 winter season to improve winter maintenance. Details.
Colorado’s I-70 Maintenance Improves Performance
Congestion on I-70 west of Denver costs an estimated $1 billion annually. Colorado DOT started a three-part strategy last year to reduce delays, including the widening of tunnels near Idaho springs, $8 million in operational investments including additional plow drivers and snowplow escorts approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel west of Denver, and a public education campaign about safe winter traveling. CDOT said that these efforts, as well as a partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, resulted in a 46 percent decrease in weather-related crashes and a 16 percent decrease in time lost due to unplanned highway closures. Details.
Boston’s Snow Journal Wins GIS Award
Snow Journal, a story map that tells how Boston reacted to four major snowstorms and seven feet of snow between January 26 and February 18 this year, won the grand prize and first place in the Infrastructure/Planning/Government category of the Esri Storytelling with Maps contest. Snow Journal originally appeared on Boston’s website to show emergency parking information, reconfigured traffic patterns, alternative parking garages, information about the district yards where snow removal equipment is stored, and catch basins that need to be kept clear. Details.
Best Practices for the Prevention of Corrosion to DOT Equipment: A User’s Manual
Clear Roads Report 13-04
Corrosion to winter maintenance equipment due to chloride deicers is a serious problem for transportation agencies throughout cold-weather regions in North America. While there are many products that promise to reduce corrosion and extensive anecdotal guidance available, this project developed a consolidated guide to current knowledge related to corrosion prevention for winter maintenance professionals. The guide offers detailed information about the types and causes of corrosion and specific practices for preventing and treating corrosion on winter maintenance equipment. Report.
Optimization of Salt Storage for County Garage Facilities
Ohio DOT Report 2015/10
Ohio DOT has identified two issues with salt storage at county garage facilities: the inability to maximize salt storage in dome structures and the inability to accurately inventory salt using visual estimates. This project investigated ODOT’s current salt storage practices and evaluated improvements that were made. Investigators found that a diesel conveyor with a 6-ton hopper and acoustic scanner system outperformed a power take-off conveyor in four different loading setups. Report.
Effect of Video Camera-Based Remote Roadway Condition Monitoring on Snow Removal-Related Maintenance Operations
Aurora Project 2012-03
Utah DOT has implemented a remote monitoring camera system for snow removal-related maintenance operations. The study evaluated the system’s effectiveness through surveys of maintenance station supervisors and analysis of snow removal-related maintenance costs. Station supervisors rated overall effectiveness of the system at 4.3 out of 5 (most effective). The cost analysis found that stations with cameras reduced expedition costs to determine whether snow removal was necessary by 14 percent. Report.
Web-Based Preventative Blowing and Drifting Snow Control Calculator Decision Tool
Minnesota DOT Report 2015-21
Standing corn rows, living or structural snow fences, or highway grading are techniques that can reduce problems with blowing and drifting snow by trapping snow before it blows across the road. A previous MnDOT project developed an Excel-based Living Snow Fence Payment Calculator tool to help determine which sites are good candidates for some form of treatment. This project adapted the calculator to a web-based tool that can be accessed on all computers, including mobile devices in the field. A webinar describes the calculator tool, as well as a tool for designing snow fences. Report.
Assessment and Placement of Living Snow Fences to Reduce Highway Maintenance Costs and Improve Safety
Colorado DOT Report 2015-01
Investigators developed tools and knowledge to expand the use of living snow fences in Colorado. The project included a survey of existing living snow fences in Colorado, and development of guidelines and training for identifying locations for living snow fences, securing the cooperation of landowners, ensuring initial maintenance of the fences, tracking assets over time and documenting benefits. Report.
Designing, Developing and Implementing a Living Snow Fence Program for New York State
New York State DOT Research Project C-06-09
Investigators developed a range of materials intended to aid in implementation of living snow fences, including training materials; classroom and field workshops on design, installation and maintenance; a benefit-cost tool; and identification of key factors for successful living snow fences in New York and beyond. Researchers also developed protocols to evaluate the effectiveness of living snow fences, and applied them to 18 living snow fences of various vegetation types and ages. This evaluation found that living snow fences have the snow-trapping potential that equals the annual quantity of blowing snow at average New York sites as soon as three years after planting, much earlier than previously assumed. Report.
Extending the Life of Paint and Reflective Markers by Using Partial Rubber Plow Blades
Indiana DOT Report 2015/02
Winter maintenance using metal plow blades frequently causes damage to raised pavement markers and painted line markings. This project was a limited study to determine whether partial rubber snowplow blades, in which the steel carbide cutting edge on the wing tip is replaced with rubber, could reduce damage to raised or painted pavement markings. Tests of both metal and partial rubber plow blades on Indiana roads found no evidence that partial rubber plow blades were significantly less damaging to pavement markings, although the sample size was too small to make a conclusive evaluation. A survey of operators found that they did not believe the partial rubber blades performed as well as steel. Report.
Permeable Pavements in Cold Climates: State of the Art and Cold Climate Case Studies
Minnesota DOT Report 2015-30
Permeable pavements are a relatively new technology, and while progress has been made with them, there are many issues that are not well understood. This project reviewed the current state of knowledge of several topics related to permeable pavements. Chapter 5 addresses maintenance needs and offers recommendations for salt and sand application. Some sources recommend against using sand on permeable pavements because it can clog the pavement’s pores and reduce infiltration rates, while several studies have found that permeable pavements require up to three-quarters less salt than non-porous asphalt to achieve bare roadway conditions. Report.
Research in Progress
Assessment of Salt Procurement and Distribution Processes
Currently, Ohio DOT procures salt for winter maintenance through a multi-vendor bid process twice a year. This project’s goal is to optimize processes from procurement to utilization by establishing a methodology for assessing processes; developing a matrix of best and current practices in procurement, storage, logistics and other appropriate areas; and identifying recommendations for improvement. Abstract.
Analysis of Dynamic Advisory Messaging
Driver behavior during winter weather and other imperfect conditions can significantly impact mobility. Dynamic advisory messaging triggered by atmospheric, surface or traffic conditions is one strategy used by transportation agencies to better inform motorists of conditions and influence their behavior. This Iowa DOT project will analyze the effectiveness of dynamic advisory messaging at positively impacting driver behavior during winter conditions. Abstract.
Fatalities and injuries due to icy roads are more than four times those from natural disasters at the national level. Icy roads also limit economic growth in New York State and other northern states by reducing highway capacity due to slow traffic, accidents, or road closures. This project, sponsored by the University Transportation Research Center at the City College of New York, will investigate self-heated pavements as an alternative to deicing agents or permeable pavements for ensuring ice-free road surfaces during the winter. Abstract.
Use of Geothermal Energy for De-icing Approach Pavement Slabs and Bridge Decks
Deicing using geothermal energy may provide the Texas Department of Transportation a better alternative to deicing agents for removing snow and ice from roadways. This research will synthesize available literature on geothermal energy, along with successful case studies on the use of geothermal energy in bridge decks and pavement deicing. A preliminary finite element analysis will also be performed using typical Texas soil and climate conditions to demonstrate feasibility and potential cost-benefit analysis of a geothermal deicing system. Abstract.
Route Optimization for ODOT Snow Plow Trucks, Phase 1
In addition to optimizing snow and ice routes for its standard snow plow trucks. Ohio Department of Transportation wants to determine the best way to implement the specialty equipment in its fleet such as Epoke bulk spreaders and the TowPlow. Phase 1 includes a pilot study for two ODOT districts, which will determine whether or not to move forward with a second phase that includes the remaining districts. Abstract.