Research Projects | Completed Synthesis Projects

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17-S2: Use of Prewetted Solid Materials for Roadway Anti-icing

Problem
Historically pre-treatment or anti-icing has been accomplished with the use of liquid products such as CaCl, MgCl, or brine. Recently, a transition has been made to higher pre-wet rates for solid applications because many crews seem to believe that this is a more cost effective method than liquid.

Objective
Clear Roads members were interested in learning about state DOT’s experiences with using prewetted solids or slurries for roadway anti-icing as an alternative to traditional liquid anti-icing. Specifically, they wanted answers to the following questions.

  • What is the prevalence of this technique and what are the conditions when this approach may be appropriate?
  • What is the cost/benefit of this approach when compared to traditional liquid applications?
  • Is there an increased environmental impact to this approach? ie. more chloride on the road or more importantly off the road?

Results
Through a literature search and survey of Clear Roads states, this project produced a synthesis report which summarizes state DOT practices related to prewetting of solid materials for anti-icing, including a description of which materials are used, what prewet rates and/or slurry rates are used, the most appropriate weather and road conditions for this technique, effects on the environment, regulatory issues, and success stories, challenges, and lessons learned.

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17-S3: Effective Snow and Ice Personnel and Equipment Management for Storm Activation

Problem
The right time to activate snow and ice personnel and equipment is an important factor in both safety and budgeting. Activating too much too early can cause unnecessary budgetary expenses, while activating too late can cause safety-related issues. Determining the right time and percentages of personnel and equipment to activate is relative to many factors.

Objective
Clear Roads members are interested in answering the following questions.

  • How do states determine how many personnel/equipment to activate as the storm approaches?
  • What percent activation is utilized during times of borderline temps with wet road conditions?
  • Do states utilize storm monitors to relay information to field forces on conditions?
  • At what time are the resources secured after an event?

Results
A literature review and a survey of 25 Clear Roads states indicates that most agencies summon half or more of their workforce to come in before a storm arrives. Meteorologists have become increasingly involved in winter maintenance programming, and a broad range of sophisticated systems, weather data and forecast sources are drawn upon in activation decisions, which are usually made at the district or regional level.

Activation and deactivation procedures are data-heavy activities. Many states have specific thresholds (fixed numbers) for air temperature, pavement temperature, precipitation levels and other factors that trigger activation. Decisions about when to deactivate forces (send crews home) tend to be driven by a combination of fixed value thresholds and field observations. Current conditions are given more weight than forecasts, with the significant exception of precipitation forecasts. The increasing role of meteorology in winter maintenance activities suggests they may be becoming more data-driven.

 

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17-S1: Calibration Accuracy of Material Application Equipment

Problem
With the increasing emphasis on protecting the environment from foreign materials and chemicals, reducing the amount of anti-icing and deicing chemicals and accurately reporting the amounts applied are gaining importance. However, the accuracy of salt application equipment is varied. Loss of calibration coding, moisture of salt, size of salt grains, temperature of hydraulic fluid, flight on the auger not being full of material, and wear on equipment all have an effect on the accuracy of measurements of salt application of snow plows.

Objective
Clear Roads members are interested in learning about state DOTs’ current practices and certainty concerning the accurate calibration of solid material (deicer) application equipment.

Results
Through a literature search and survey of Clear Roads states, this project produced a synthesis report that summarizes DOTs’ experience with calibration of their spreading equipment.

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16-S3: Maintenance Vehicle Conspicuity

Problem
Improving highway safety and increasing mobility are always of utmost importance to a transportation agency. When DOT maintenance vehicles are operating during severe winter weather and/or operating at night, the risk of motorists coming into contact with these vehicles increases dramatically.

Objective
Clear Roads would like to learn which color schemes, including retroreflective taping patterns, are best for DOT vehicles and equipment to maximize conspicuity in both winter and summer operations?

Expected Results
This project will produce a synthesis report which summarizes domestic and international research that highlight the most effective paint colors, lighting, and retroreflective taping patterns used to enhance the conspicuity of state DOT maintenance vehicles, airport vehicles, emergency vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, and other commercial vehicles.

In particular, this study will focus on where and and how conspicuity treatments are most effectively placed on a vehicle; the most effective combination of conspicuity treatments; and the appropriate balance of conspicuity and safety during both daytime and nighttime hours.

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16-S2: Monitoring Stockpiles of Solid Winter Maintenance Materials

Problem
Finding the right method to take frequent, accurate measurements of stockpiles of solid winter maintenance materials can be challenging for transportation agencies. Measurement practices can be time-consuming or fail to produce measurements that are accurate enough for the agency to rely on. Without accurate measurements of the materials on hand, an agency can face shortages of the solid winter maintenance materials needed to see it through a winter season.

Objective
The goal of this project is to create a synthesis of best management practices for the accurate measurement of solid winter maintenance materials, and other solid materials, using technology and non-technology based methods.

Expected Results
This project will produce a synthesis report that summarizes best practices for the periodic accurate measurement and reporting of covered and uncovered stockpiles of solid winter maintenance materials. The synthesis will also include practices used to measure uncovered stockpiles of other solid materials such as aggregates and agricultural products. Information for this project will be gathered through a survey of winter maintenance contacts in all 50 states and a literature search.

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16-S1: Snowplow Truck Washing Practices

Problem

Frequent washing of snowplow trucks during the winter maintenance season can help reduce corrosion and prolong the life of winter maintenance equipment. Transportation agencies need information about truck washing practices that are cost-effective and environmentally sensitive, and produce clear results in reducing or preventing corrosion on snowplow trucks. Clear Roads members are particularly interested in agencies’ experiences with in-house wash bays.

Objective

The goal of this project was to identify best practices for the implementation and use of in-house wash bays and the use of other truck washing alternatives such as off-site commercial washing facilities. Information for this project was gathered through a survey of winter maintenance contacts at state DOTs and a literature search.

Results

This project produced a synthesis report that summarizes best practices for the use of in-house wash bays and other washing alternatives for the routine washing of snowplow trucks. The report addresses topics including the treatment of wash bay wastewater, wash bay installation requirements and costs, and the effectiveness of truck washing alternatives in reducing or preventing corrosion on snowplow trucks.

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