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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Expanded Use of AVL/GPS Technology

Problem

Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technologies installed in winter maintenance vehicles have the potential to support summer road maintenance vehicles to improve asset tracking and management practices, as well as other purposes such as process automation and paperwork reduction for field staff in terms of activity reporting. The use of AVL/GPS systems to support both winter and summer maintenance activities can help justify the expenses incurred with respect to hardware / software acquisition and training costs across a wide range of applications.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to help state transportation agencies optimize the value gained from the acquisition of AVL/GPS units by deploying them year-round, rather than just in winter maintenance operations.

Expected Results

This project will help fleet managers demonstrate the additional return on investment that can be realized through the use of these systems for year-round maintenance activities.

Final project webinar was conducted on January 6, 2023.

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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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Evaluation of Indoor Automated Stockpile Measurement Systems

Problem

Accurately measuring indoor salt stockpiles has traditionally been a challenge for transportation agencies. Clear Roads is interested in examining a range of existing and emerging approaches to indoor stockpile measurement, including systems using LiDAR, photogrammetry, surveying, acoustic sensing, and drone technology. In particular, Clear Roads is interested in automated or semi-automated systems that have the capability to measure a stockpile, and transmit the data to a central location.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to conduct a data-driven evaluation of currently available automated or semi-automated indoor salt stockpile measuring systems in order to improve agencies’ day-to-day management of their salt stockpile inventories.

Expected Results

By automating this process, states could improve their inventory management and minimize costly rush orders of salt.

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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 were 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 included 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. 4.5 hrs of salt precip / ice formation. 27% NaCl at 5 F.

 

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.

 

An Implementation Webinar took place on November 16, 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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