Research Projects | Completed Projects

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Standards and Guidance for Using Mobile Sensor Technology to Assess Winter Road Conditions

Problem

Today, data collected by vehicle-mounted sensors are useful but limited. For a given parameter (for example, grip, road condition, water film height, etc.), sensors from different manufacturers may provide disparate values under the same conditions, making the information hard to interpret across manufacturers.

Moreover, even when a given manufacturer’s measurement scales are well understood, the resulting set of measured values for an array of parameters (road condition, grip, road temperature, dew point temperature, water film height and others) are not easily translated into unambiguous guidance: what are the road conditions, how can they be characterized in terms of a performance measure, and what operational steps should a maintenance agency take?

Objective

Through rigorous testing of sensor equipment, development of standardized scales, and creation of guidance for using an array of measurements in concert for decision-making, Clear Roads will make better use of road sensor data than is now currently available.

Expected Results

The guidance developed from this project will help in multiple aspects of winter maintenance—in the short-term for responding to a winter storm in real time, and in the long-term in making policy and planning decisions based on performance trends. It will also help practitioners avoid guesswork by providing guidance based on vetted equipment and reliable numerical standards.

The Final Webinar took place on April 11, 2019.

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Synthesis of Material Application Methodologies for Winter Operations

Problem

Transportation agencies have been managing their salt and liquid anti-icing applications based on the results of multiple testing efforts over the years. These agencies have gained significant practical experience in the use of chloride-based liquids for winter maintenance since the earlier guidelines were published, and have developed locally-based approaches for their use alone or with other winter materials.

However, discussions at recent National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchanges have repeatedly identified the need to update the existing guidelines for material application rates as a function of road weather scenarios in the field environment.

Objective

The goal of this project is to create a synthesis of best management practices for application rates, material application methodologies and material usage, including chloride brines applied directly or as additives to abrasives and rock salts.

Expected Results

A key deliverable of this project will be a handbook that is succinct, decisive in its instructions and recommendations, and professionally created. This handbook will provide winter maintenance professionals with the ability to access the needed information with ease and will be essential in driving the successful implementation of this project’s findings.

The Final Webinar took place on February 11, 2019.

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AWSSI Enhancements in Support of Winter Road Maintenance

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.

This project modified this tool to make it more useful to state DOTs as they prepare for future winter storms/seasons.

Objective

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

Results

A simple tool that states can use to conduct their own calculations in order to relate storm severity to other factors, such as winter maintenance costs.

Clear Roads Project 20-07, AWSSI Enhancements Phase 2, builds upon the enhancements completed during Project 16-02.

Tool

ACCUMULATED WINTER SEASON SEVERITY INDEX

The final webinar took place on February 26, 2019.

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Developing a Training Video and Manual for Best Practices and Techniques in Clearing Different Interchange Configurations and Other Geometric Layouts

Problem

There are many types of interchange configurations and intersection layouts that must be cleared during winter maintenance operations. These include, but are not limited to: diamond, cloverleaf, single-point urban interchange (SPUI), roundabout, Michigan left (boulevard turnaround), continuous flow intersection, diverging diamond, collector distributor lanes/interchange, and auxiliary turn lanes. There are numerous pass sequences that snow and ice professionals can use to clear a given snow route, intersection or interchange configuration. Agencies need a resource that provides guidance on the most efficient and effective means for snow removal utilizing common equipment setups.

Objective

This project involved researching and documenting current snow removal practices used by transportation agencies to determine the most efficient practices for clearing various interchange and intersection geometries. The goal was to develop resources that will help agencies better train their operators, justify the purchase of specialized equipment, manage resources, and improve service levels to the driving public.

Results

Researchers developed a 66-minute video (available below and as a video series) that showcases the most efficient pass sequences for plowing 10 different interchange and intersection layouts. A practice manual and reference cards complement the video training.

The final webinar took place on October 18, 2018.

Animations of Interchange and Intersection Clearing Best Practices
(Full Video)

 

Intersection/Interchange Animations

Introduction to Animations Roundabout Intersection
Four-Leg Intersection Displaced Left-Turn Intersection

Median U-Turn Intersection

Double Roundabout Interchange
Diamond Interchange Cloverleaf Interchange
Single-Point Interchange Diverging Diamond Interchange
Directional T Interchange
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Utilization of AVL/GPS Technology: Case Studies

Problem

Much is known about what winter maintenance AVL/GPS technologies are available from different vendors as well as which highway agencies are making use of them. Among other sources, these have been documented through Clear Roads project 14-01: Synthesis on GPS/AVL Equipment Used for Winter Maintenance. However, highway agencies will significantly benefit from a deeper examination of winter maintenance AVL/GPS implementation.

Objective

The goal of this project was to help state DOTs make more informed decisions with respect to implementation of winter maintenance AVL/GPS.

Results

Detailed agency case studies were developed in this project to bring to light more nuanced issues related to winter maintenance AVL/GPS. These case studies highlight the types of issues that agencies should consider, provide guidance for successful implementation, and can serve as templates to help agencies get the best value out of different levels of AVL/GPS applications.

The Final Webinar was held on August 31, 2018.

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Training Video for the Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes

Problem

While some agencies have used liquid-only plow routes with great success, others are unable to secure the buy-in needed to implement this practice. Clear Roads believes this is largely a communication issue—a need to put the right message in front of the right audience in a compelling way and to dispel myths and misconceptions.

Objective

The goal of this project was to help state DOTs garner support for and accelerate the implementation of liquid-only plow routes.

Results

This project resulted in the creation of two videos designed to explain the benefits of liquid-only plow routes, the fundamentals of how and when to use liquid-only plowing, and steps to implement a program.

The final webinar took place on May 23, 2018.

 

Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes (Full Video)

 

Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes (Short Video)

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Aftermarket Cameras in Winter Maintenance Vehicles

Problem

Video cameras on winter maintenance vehicles can provide a wealth of crucial information to plow operators, maintenance supervisors and the public. Cameras can help operators monitor equipment operation and material application and can provide maintenance supervisors and motorists with a near-real-time view of road conditions. Among the agencies that have cameras on their snowplows, equipment, installation, usage and image quality vary. Clear Roads agencies that are interested in installing aftermarket cameras on their fleets need practical information to guide their choices to maximize the benefits of these systems.

Objective

The goal of this project was to provide guidance to transportation agencies seeking to begin using, or to expand current use of, aftermarket cameras installed on winter maintenance vehicles.

Results

Researchers conducted a state-of-the-practice literature review, survey and interviews to identify types, uses and best practices for on-vehicle camera systems. Taking into account the variety of available cameras, installation configurations and uses for aftermarket camera systems, researchers compiled recommendations for states wanting to initiate or expand camera use on winter maintenance vehicles. Key recommendations address camera location and positioning, in-cab display capabilities, use of camera washer systems and heated lenses, and considerations for transmitting images or real-time video.

 

The Final Webinar took place on June 24, 2021.

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Emergency Operations Methodology for Extreme Winter Storm Events

Problem

Severe winter storms develop through the combination of multiple meteorological factors. These severe winter storms bring threats of damage to infrastructure and personal health impacts from low temperatures and/or strong winds, but often exacerbate these threats with heavy accumulations of snow.

Many state agencies lack the plans necessary to guide them through an effective response that needs to be coordinated between multiple agencies and jurisdictions who typically do not interact on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, these types of plans are often most effective when they provide a formal communications protocol and contact information for these agencies to follow.

Objective

The goal of this project was to provide guidance to transportation agencies seeking to develop or improve and expand their current plans and policies for handling severe-to-extreme storm events. Such events typically include the involvement of multiple departments within a transportation agency and coordination of multiple agencies (including state and local) affected by the extreme winter weather.

Results

Researchers found that agencies with effective response plans for severe winter weather employ a transportation emergency management office, facilitate interagency cooperation, and embrace technologies for tracking and reallocating equipment. State DOTs can use the case studies and recommendations in the final report to help improve their own response plans and develop more efficient, flexible approaches to ensuring public safety during intense winter storms.

Final webinar took place on June 28, 2018.

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Integrating Advanced Technologies into Winter Operations Decisions

Problem

Advanced technologies like mobile sensor systems, enhanced maintenance decision support systems (MDSS), and connected and automated vehicles have the potential to help transportation agencies advance the state of winter maintenance operations. A wide variety of technologies are available, but new developments are released so rapidly that state DOTs often find it difficult to integrate them into their decision-making processes. On an individual basis, these technologies have been thoroughly studied and described, but Clear Roads agencies are now looking for guidance on how best to integrate them on a systems level.

Objective

The goal of this project was to provide systems-level guidance on the many new technologies available to evaluate road conditions in an integrated blueprint.

Results

This project developed a user-friendly guide to the technologies available for winter maintenance operations. The guide outlines what these technologies measure, describes how to integrate them into a successful winter maintenance operations strategy, and provides recommendations on how to incorporate future technologies into the strategy.

The Final Webinar took place on December 8, 2020.

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Understanding the Chemical and Mechanical Performance of Snow and Ice Control Agents on Porous or Permeable Pavements

Problem

Winter maintenance field personnel have reported several issues related to pavement performance when applying snow and ice control agents on porous or permeable asphalt pavement surfaces.

These pavement surfaces appear to refreeze more quickly and stay wet longer than other pavements. Field personnel report that they require 25 to 30 percent more deicing agent, and that in some conditions these pavements refreeze well after the conclusion of snow and ice control activities.

Objective

This project provides information and guidelines to help determine the optimum maintenance strategies for porous or permeable asphalt pavements, including:

  • Dense graded pavements
  • Open graded pavements
  • Ultrathin Friction Course

Results

This project was closed out after reaching the five year maximum time limit for contracts, per the State of Minnesota Statutes. Because of this, not all deliverables were able to be completed and approved by the Clear Roads Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

The following deliverables (also posted under Final Products) include:

  • Task 6: White Paper on Chemical and Mechanical Interactions (98% complete)
  • Task 7: Synthesis of Best Practices (95% complete)
  • Task 8: Field Testing Recommendations (75% complete)
  • Task 9: Final Report (50% complete – not approved by TAC)
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