Research Projects | In Progress Projects

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18-04: Review and Summary of Pre-wet Methods and Procedures

Problem

While previous research has been done in this area, Clear Roads believes that gaps in knowledge exist and that further investigation is needed to identify the most effective materials, equipment, and methods for pre-wetting.

Objectives

The 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).

Expected Results

To provide 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. That ultimate deliverable must inform the approach, development, and execution of this Phase I project—the compilation and review of knowledge and practices.

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18-03: 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 is 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.

Expected Results

The deliverables from this project will allow winter maintenance managers, researchers and transportation agencies to more effectively compare winter operations among localized areas, districts and states. Agencies will also be able to compare individual storms and across years to evaluate innovations and new winter maintenance methods.

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18-02: High Performance Blade Evaluation

Problem

High-performance snowplow blades are designed to last longer than standard plow blades, and they typically cost more as well. However, since many variables can affect blade life, it can be difficult for an agency to determine which blades are the most cost-effective overall. Since Clear Roads recognizes that it may be challenging to develop a standard field test protocol that controls for all of these variables, this project will involve compiling and analyzing the results of field tests to be conducted at multiple state DOTs, as well as conducting a cost-benefit analysis of each blade type.

Objective

The objective of this project is to develop a field test protocol and cost-benefit analysis methodology that can be reproduced by Clear Roads agencies in future testing, so that other blades can be evaluated and compared using the same standard procedures used in this project.

Expected Results

Based on field test results, the Clear Roads will produce a Quick Reference Guide outlining the features and specifications of each blade along with key field test results and cost-benefit ratios in an easy-to-read format. These tests will also be repeatable with future-developed high performance blades as a standard test protocol will also be developed.

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18-01: Defensive Driving for Snowplow Operators

Problem

Each winter, snowplows are struck by other vehicles, costing agencies money in repair and replacement costs and effecting 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 is to examine key causes of collisions involving snowplows and other vehicles, identify defensive driving strategies that snowplow operators can use to reduce the likelihood of being struck by other drivers.

Expected Results

Clear Roads is looking to develop PPT-based training modules on safe driving and defensive driving for snowplow operators. A video, which will demonstrate defensive driving scenarios, will also be created to accompany the training modules.

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18-05: 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 is to help state DOTs and local transportation agencies better understand the performance, cost and environmental impacts of alternative deicing materials, and the application methods currently used in the field, and to compare the performance and impacts of alternative winter maintenance materials with chloride-based materials.

Expected Results

Clear Roads is seeking case studies and recommendations that will lead to a future project that uses results of this project 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.

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17-01: Integrating Advanced Technologies into Winter Operations Decisions

Problem

There is currently a wide variety of technologies available, both mobile and stationary, with new developments being released so rapidly that state Departments of Transportation find it difficult to integrate them into the decision-making process. On an individual basis, these technologies have been studied and well described, however, Clear Roads is seeking help to determine how best to integrate them on a systems-level.

Objective

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

Expected Results

Clear Roads is seeking a user-friendly Best Management Practices guide to the technologies available for winter maintenance operations; what these technologies measure; how to integrate them into a successful winter maintenance operations strategy; and recommendations on how to incorporate future technologies into the strategy.

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17-03: Aftermarket Cameras in Winter Maintenance Vehicles

Problem

Because of the harsh winter maintenance environment and limitations of driver attention, guidance is needed to apply camera technology to winter maintenance vehicles to ensure maximum benefit. Aftermarket cameras described here could be mounted inside a vehicle cab or externally on a vehicle and trained in any direction. The audience for such camera images are DOT maintenance managers who would benefit from near-real time access to the condition of the roads, vehicle hardware, and on-board chemicals.

Objective

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

Expected Results

The primary aim of added imaging capability is to assist with operational decisions and increase situational awareness. Clear Roads is seeking guidance in the form of a synthesis of current practices and existing data and test results as well as a compilation of lessons learned, best practices, considerations and recommendations.

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17-02: 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, 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 will gather information from these users and carbide insert manufacturers/distributors/vendors to compile a set of standard specifications which may be used and shared among Clear Roads members and others.

Objective

The goal of this project is 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 specifications 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.

Expected Results

A set of common standard specification, including but not limited to 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 will 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 the blade/insert mounting configuration.

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13-05: Developing Test Bed Software to Qualify Plug and Play Technology

Background

Clear Roads has been leading a “Plug and Play” initiative to specify a universal bi-directional communications protocol for in-cab electronics, regardless of the manufacturer or service provider. Establishment of this protocol will mutually benefit Clear Roads member states and their vendors by standardizing how critical operational data are shared on modern snow and ice vehicles, namely between compatible Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) devices and anti-icing/deicing joystick and spreader controller systems.

Objective

The goal of this project is to develop a software suite that will be used to validate and certify candidate spreader controllers and AVL equipment for compliance with the current Clear Roads Universal In-Cab Performance Specification and Communications Protocol.

Expected Results

Clear Roads members will be provided with a software suite composed of the following three components:

  1. The SQL Database. Stores test parameters and vendor/equipment information.
  2. The Web Portal. Web application used by both vendors to initiate and complete the certification process, and Clear Roads members to administer and view lists of compliant equipment and test results.
  3. The Device Test Application. A MS Windows Application that performs the actual tests on the device, provides feedback to the user, and communicates results to the SQL Database via the Web Portal on completion of the test. The Device Test Application installation package will be downloaded from the web portal by the vendors after the minimum required information as specified in the current Protocol Document has been entered.

CLEAR ROADS TEST BED PORTAL

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16-05: Weather Event Reconstruction and Analysis Tool

Problem

After a storm, transportation agencies need to conduct after-action studies and prepare after-action reports. To do this, data from numerous sources needs to be accessed, collected, and analyzed. These data may be difficult to access and use for a number of reasons. They may not be easy to find, or it may be difficult to parse readily available data. Some kinds of data may also be difficult to export, particularly video of radar or forecast maps.

Objective

The goal of this project is to allow transportation agencies to more quickly and easily reconstruct winter weather events, with a focus on drawing from data sources that cover the entire United States or large regions.

Expected Results

This project should identify easily usable data sources and develop a user-friendly data retrieval interface. The project outcome should let agencies spend much less time finding and preparing data and allow them move quickly to analysis and follow up. This will help agencies better understand the development and outcomes of such events, react appropriately to such events in the short and long term, and refine future maintenance decision-making.

WEATHER EVENT RECONSTRUCTION AND ANALYSIS TOOL

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