Research Projects | Completed Projects

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Expanding Application Rate Guidance for Salt Brine Blends for Direct Liquid Application and Anti-icing

Problem

Direct liquid application (DLA) has been shown to be effective at clearing snow and ice while using less salt than granular salt application. However, a lack of detailed guidance and application rates for multiple brine blends across a variety of weather and pavement conditions may prevent some agencies from fully utilizing DLA as a winter maintenance strategy.

Objectives

This project’s goal was to expand on the existing guidelines for the use of brines and brine blends for DLA and anti-icing. By providing a more complete set of application rates for various pavement temperature ranges and road surface conditions, this project will help facilitate expanded use of DLA and anti-icing at agencies across the country.

Results

Through a survey of practice and subsequent field testing, researchers gathered a robust set of data on how agencies apply various liquid deicers across a broad range of field conditions, particularly at lower temperatures. The test results, along with the survey results and information gathered through a literature review, were used to create a set of application rate tables for brine and brine blend usage for DLA and anti-icing.

The Final Webinar took place on December 13, 2021.

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Review and Summary of Pre-wet Methods and Procedures

Problem

While previous research has been done in this area, gaps in knowledge existed and further investigation was needed to identify the most effective materials, equipment and methods for pre-wetting.

Objectives

This project’s goal was to create a compilation of relevant recent knowledge, data and guidance, as well as detailed descriptions of current national and international agency practices regarding on-board pre-wetting of solids, specifically focusing on the areas of materials, equipment and methods (including application rates and vehicle speed).

Results

This compilation provides guidance to transportation agencies seeking to effectively employ the practice of pre-wetting of solid materials in their winter highway maintenance protocols. A Phase II project is planned, which will combine the results of both phases to produce a comprehensive guide to pre-wetting.

The Final Webinar took place on June 10, 2021.

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AWSSI Enhancements, Phase 2

Problem

State DOTs are always looking for ways to better prepare for winter storms/seasons, but this is a difficult proposition because tools and software programs to provide this kind of information are not commonplace.

The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI) is a simple and straightforward tool that was developed by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center using nonproprietary data that is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for numerous locations within each state.

The first iteration of this project modified this tool to make it more useful to state DOTs as they prepare for future winter storms/seasons. The second phase of this project made further improvements to the tool.

Objective

The objective of this project was to continue to expand on the current AWSSI tool to add more stations and provide additional features to allow for winter severity projections and connect winter severity to winter maintenance costs.

Results

This project continued the process of improving the tool developed by the MRCC. This iteration added additional locations to the AWSSI tool; updated the average AWSSI seasonal total map through the 2019-2020 season; added the ability to download the daily seasonal data for any given station during the current season; and provided the user with the ability to add up to five specific historical seasons to be included in any station’s current year chart.

Tool

ACCUMULATED WINTER SEASON SEVERITY INDEX

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Understanding the NaCl Phase Diagram

Problem

The sodium chloride phase diagram is a visual representation of the behavior of NaCl solutions across a range of temperatures and salt concentrations. Winter maintenance practitioners are primarily concerned with the portion of the phase diagram where ice is formed. The NaCl phase diagram shows a familiar process: salt depressing the freezing point of ice. However, there has been some confusion regarding the portion of the diagram to the right of the eutectic point. In brine solutions with salt concentrations beyond the eutectic point, salt precipitate and ice begin to form in the solution as the temperature drops. Practitioners are unclear as to whether spraying a supersaturated brine can cause roads to become more slippery under certain circumstances.

Objectives

The goals of this project are to provide winter maintenance practitioners with a better understanding of the sodium chloride phase diagram and of how brines with salt concentrations higher or lower than the eutectic point of 23.3% will behave on the roadway.

Expected Results

Project deliverables include the development of training materials (a fact sheet and a video) to help provide winter maintenance practitioners with a better understanding of the phase diagram for sodium chloride and how to apply it to yield the best results in roadway deicing. This knowledge will help winter maintenance agencies apply salt and salt brines effectively for the best performance on winter roadways.

Educational video describing the NaCl Phase Diagram

 

Time-lapse video

 

Final project webinar was conducted on June 17, 2022.

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Evaluation of SSI and WSI Variables

Problem

Storm Severity Index and Winter Severity Index are important measures in comparing individual storms and annual winter weather severity. Currently, there is no standard set of variables used in connection with these indexes. While an agency can review and compare its variables with similar variables used by other agencies, the lack of a uniform set of variables measured in a consistent manner precludes agencies from effectively comparing the winter-related inputs such as the labor and materials used to perform winter maintenance.

Objectives

  • Identify state, national and international agencies using SSI and/or WSI.
  • Determine the variables and measurement methods used to create the indexes. (A variable of particular interest to Clear Roads states was freezing rain.)
  • Gather statistical data resulting from analysis of each variable for consistency and variability.
  • Recommend the most reliable variables, with the highest correlation to storm severity, for developing SSI/WSI.
  • Create a flexible spreadsheet tool that allows agencies to develop a state-specific SSI/WSI.

Results

Researchers created a step-by-step guide and a flowchart tool to help agencies identify or develop severity index methods that fit their needs and their available data sources. Once implemented, these severity indexes will allow winter maintenance managers, researchers and transportation agencies to more effectively compare winter operations among localized areas, districts and states. Agencies are also better able to compare individual storms across years, which in turn allows them to more accurately evaluate the impacts of innovations and new winter maintenance methods.

The Final Webinar took place on December 22, 2020.

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Entry-Level Driver Training (CDL) for Maintenance Equipment Operators

Please complete this request form to access the training materials. See the fact sheet for more information.

Background

Under a new federal rule, all providers (individual locations) of entry-level commercial driver’s license (CDL) training must be listed on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Training Provider Registry (TPR). To be listed on the TPR, the lead trainer at each location must certify that the location meets these requirements:

  1. Follows a training curriculum that meets specific criteria for theory and behind-the-wheel training.
  2. Utilizes facilities, vehicles, and instructors meeting federal requirements.
  3. Meets federal record-keeping requirements.
  4. Complies with any applicable state laws and regulations.

Objectives

The goals of this project were (1) to provide training materials and resources that will allow Clear Roads member agencies to provide entry-level CDL training that complies with 81 FR 88732, 84 FR 8029, and 49 CFR 380; and (2) to develop and document a process for member agencies to follow in order for each of their training locations to be added to the FMCSA TPR by February 7, 2022, and to comply with all federal requirements to remain on the TPR.

Results

This project developed the following materials: (1) complete curriculum to meet the FMCSA requirements for the instructor-led classroom and behind-the-wheel components of the entry-level driver training rule, focusing on obtaining an initial Class B CDL, upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL, and obtaining the hazardous materials endorsement for the first time; (2) all training materials and resources necessary for states to execute the training program; (3) train-the-trainer materials to assist agencies in implementing the training program; and (4) fact sheet and timeline to help agencies ensure that all of their training locations are added to the TPR before February 7, 2022.

Clear Roads is making the training materials available free of charge to any public agency, including local and county highway departments. Please complete the request form to access the materials.

This project was featured in an article in the August 2022 issue of APWA Reporter.

 

The Interim Webinar took place on April 2, 2021.

 

The Final Webinar took place on September 27, 2021.

 

A Train-the-Trainer Webinar took place on January 26, 2022.

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Defensive Driving for Snowplow Operators

Problem

Each winter, snowplows are struck by other vehicles, costing agencies money in repair and replacement costs and impacting traveler safety due to lost plowing time. Rear-end collisions and crashes during turning movements are two common types of crashes. Although snowplow operators are rarely at fault in these crashes, training operators on defensive driving practices—as well as reviewing general safe driving practices—may help reduce the likelihood of collisions caused by other drivers.

Objective

The goal of this project was to examine key causes of collisions involving snowplows and other vehicles, and identify defensive driving strategies that snowplow operators can use to reduce the likelihood of being struck by other drivers.

Results

This project resulted in the creation of two PowerPoint-based training modules on safe driving and defensive driving for snowplow operators. The modules include videos that demonstrate defensive and safe driving scenarios.

This project was featured in an article in the October 2021 issue of APWA Reporter and on Episode 57 of the SICOP Talks Winter Ops podcast. In addition, a paper about this project won a national award at PIARC’s 16th World Winter Service and Road Resilience Congress in February 2022.

 

The Final Webinar took place on August 13, 2020.

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Alternative Methods for Deicing

Problem

The public’s increasing demands for higher levels of service and ice-free conditions are requiring agencies to apply greater amounts of chloride-based materials, which increases material, equipment and labor costs. State and local units of government are continually assessing the need to balance LOS goals with winter maintenance costs and the negative impacts winter maintenance materials can have on the environment.

Objective

The goal of this project was to help state DOTs and local transportation agencies better understand the performance, cost and environmental impacts of alternative deicing materials; understand the application methods currently used in the field; and compare the performance and impacts of alternative winter maintenance materials with chloride-based materials.

Results

This project produced case studies and recommendations on the use of alternative methods of deicing. These results lay the groundwork for future research to identify and conduct the testing and analysis needed to develop research-based best practices for the use of alternative deicing materials that achieve comparable snow melt and can be used in place of or to supplement chloride-based materials.

This project was featured in an article in the September 2021 issue of Roads & Bridges magazine.

The Final Webinar took place on May 4, 2020.

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Standard Specifications for Plow Blades with Carbide Inserts

Problem

Carbide inserts provide a life expectancy 10 to 20 times longer than traditional steel blades. This extended longevity has proven to save time and resources for winter maintenance agencies around the country. Unfortunately, there are no common procurement specifications for carbide inserts, and agencies use a wide variety of requirements.

Still, many agencies do have experience using standards developed for the use of plow blades with carbide inserts. This project gathered information from these users and from carbide insert manufacturers, distributors and vendors to compile a set of standard specifications that can be used and shared among Clear Roads members and others.

Objective

The goal of this project was to develop a set of standard specifications that can be used by agencies across the country to specify carbide-insert plow blades. State DOTs currently specify a variety of carbide-insert blades, and having a common specifications used by many of the 36 Clear Roads states would simplify and streamline the procurement process for state DOTs and vendors. The buying power connected to a widely accepted specification would be greater, and procurement coalitions could potentially use the standard specifications for bidding. In addition, if more agencies specified the same product, vendors could reduce their costs and pass those savings on to state DOTs. The standard specifications would provide a starting point for agencies that want to develop their own specifications. Counties and cities would also be able to take advantage of the specifications.

Results

This project produced a set of standard specifications addressing the following:

  • Carbide inserts, geometry, and dimensions
  • Blade materials, assembly details, and dimensions
  • Plow blade configuration (front, underbody, or tow blade) and blade dimensions (length and height)
  • Quality assurance inspections and accept/reject procedures
  • Details of procedures to accept/reject inserts

Specifications include text and AutoCAD details of insert dimensions, insert material, blade dimensions, and mounting details (including bolt pattern and inside measurements, amount of insert inside a blade, and blade/insert mounting configuration).

NOTE: Based on a peer review conducted by industry, Clear Roads has revised a portion of the specifications, which can be found under Study Documents > Final Products.

The Final Webinar took place on March 25, 2020.

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Synthesis of Technical Requirements and Considerations for Automated Snowplow Route Optimization

Problem

Some state DOTs use snowplow route optimization programs to optimize their fleet sizing, determine new facility locations, and develop snow and ice routes. Optimization programs can result in cost savings through more efficient and effective use of staff, equipment and materials, and through optimal placement of winter maintenance facilities. However, developing the Request for Proposals (RFP) for optimization services, specifically the technical requirements portion of the RFP, can be difficult and time-consuming.

Objective

This project’s goal was to expedite the process for states to procure an automated snowplow route optimization program vendor by providing a list of technical requirements and considerations that states can use to build their RFP.

Results

Through a survey and follow-up interviews with agencies and vendors, this project captured the technical requirements and considerations involved in selecting an automated snowplow route optimization program. The project produced two complementary documents as appendices to the final report:

  1. Decision Support Guidance: An accessible and in-depth discussion of the technical requirements for route optimization and the key decisions DOTs should consider when developing the project scope and managing a provider.
  2. Contracting Language Template: A flexible template to assist DOTs with developing a scope of work for an RFP for automated snowplow route optimization services. The language in the template is intended to ensure that DOTs and service providers have a shared understanding of the scope of work that the DOT requires and to maximize the likelihood that the project will result in safe, feasible, implementation-ready routes.

The Final Webinar took place on October 29, 2021.

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