Latest News

New Clear Roads RFPs: Proposals due Sept. 7 August 10, 2022

Clear Roads is currently soliciting investigator proposals for four new research projects:

  • Comprehensive Guide to Pre-Wetting Application Rates and Methods
  • Best Management Practices for Liquid Chloride Storage and Pumping Systems
  • Evaluation of Direct Liquid Application of Salt Brine vs. Granular Salt as Measured Through Various Performance and Safety Metrics
  • Use of Dashboards for Winter Operations

Please see the RFP page for more information. For all projects, the deadline to submit proposals is Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

No Boundaries Report Identifies Strategies to Recruit and Retain Workers August 4, 2022

Workforce shortages are a top concern for transportation agencies across the country. With maintenance workers needed year-round to keep roads clear and safe, the No Boundaries Transportation Maintenance Innovations pooled fund program has published a new report designed to help agencies identify recruitment and retention challenges and uncover noteworthy and effective solutions.

The recently published report, No Boundaries Synthesis: Responses to Staffing Shortages, documents strategies such as apprenticeship programs that provide on-the-job training, creative outreach efforts, innovative compensation and benefits packages, and more.

In addition, the report addresses the new federal commercial driver’s license requirements, their effect on the pool of qualified applicants nationwide, and how agencies are responding.

Related Resources from Clear Roads:

New Podcast Episodes from SICOP Talks Winter Ops July 22, 2022

Check out these recent episodes from AASHTO’s SICOP Talks Winter Ops podcast:

  • Introducing the Next Generation to DOTs and Highway Maintenance (Episode 63) looks at three programs designed to introduce transportation and civil engineering concepts to K-12 students, including two AASHTO programs and a Senior Seminar in Public Works and Road Maintenance from Front Range Community College. July 2022. Podcast.
  • Keeping the Paperwork Flowing While the Snowplows Are Rolling at the Rhode Island DOT (Episode 62): Joe Bucci of Rhode Island DOT describes how the agency handles the administrative side of winter operations, including using a new app to streamline managing contractors. June 2022. Podcast.
  • Winter Maintenance and Road Weather in Arizona (Episode 61): Kevin Duby of Arizona DOT shares how the agency manages a range of weather-related challenges. May 2022. Podcast.
  • You’re Not Alone Out There: Crowdsourcing for Winter Maintenance (Episode 60): Randi Feltner of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet describes how the agency uses crowdsourced data from motorists to enhance its winter response. April 2022. Podcast.
  • Modeling Road Network Conditions During Weather Events – IMRCP (Episode 59): Tony Coventry of FHWA’s Road Weather Management Program and Kyle Garrett of Synesis Partners talk about the Integrated Modeling for Road Condition Prediction system, an emerging tool designed to help agencies model the performance of a roadway network during a weather event. March 2022. Podcast.

Finally, don’t miss this recent webinar:

  • 3rd National SICOP-Maintenance Operations Briefing: SICOP and the Maintenance Operations Technical Working Group of the AASHTO Maintenance Committee present a briefing from a range of national winter maintenance, road weather, and maintenance operations groups. June 2022. Webinar.

Image source: Rhode Island DOT

Clear Roads Selects 2022 Research Projects July 8, 2022

Each spring, the Clear Roads Technical Advisory Committee meets to review research proposals and select new projects for funding. This year, the committee selected five projects:

  • Comprehensive Guide to Pre-wetting Application Rates and Methods
  • Best Management Practices for Liquid Chloride Storage and Pumping Systems
  • Effects of Additives in Lowering the Freezing Point of Deicing Salts
  • Evaluation of Direct Liquid Application of Salt Brine vs. Granular Salt as Measured Through Various Performance and Safety Metrics
  • Use of Dashboards for Winter Operations

More information about these projects is available in the 2022 All Proposed Projects summary. Requests for investigator proposals for the new projects will be posted this summer.

The agenda, budget and minutes from the spring meeting are available on the Clear Roads Meetings page.

Image source: Oregon DOT

New Clear Roads Research: Expanded Guidance for Applying Liquid Deicers May 31, 2022

Liquid deicers such as salt brine and brine blends can effectively clear snow and ice while using less salt than traditional granular applications. To fully utilize this strategy, though, agencies need detailed guidance and application rates for multiple liquids across a variety of weather and pavement conditions.

Drawing from field test results and practitioner recommendations, a recent Clear Roads project developed comprehensive application guidelines for liquid deicers that address a range of pavement temperatures, temperature trends, road surface conditions and materials—including guidance for using liquids at lower temperatures.

Download the application guidelines, final report and two-page brief: Expanding Application Rate Guidance for Salt Brine Blends for Direct Liquid Application and Anti-icing, December 2021.

Call for Presentations: 2023 North American Snow Conference May 19, 2022

2023 Snow Conference logoHave a successful winter maintenance practice that could help others? Share your knowledge at the 2023 North American Snow Conference. Organizers are looking for public works professionals to lead the conference’s education sessions to help their colleagues more effectively manage winter operations.

The 2023 conference will feature presentations on the following aspects of winter operations: information management, innovative solutions, leadership and workforce solutions, materials application, fleet and equipment management, and planning and operations. Presentations should emphasize practical applications and leading-edge technologies and approaches.

The deadline to submit presentation proposals is August 19, 2022, and the conference will be held April 16-19, 2023, in Omaha, Nebraska. The annual conference is hosted by the American Public Works Association.

For more information, visit the conference’s Call for Presentations page.

New Clear Roads Research: Optimizing Tow Plow and Wing Plow Deployment May 13, 2022

Designed to allow a plow operator to clear more snow in a single pass, accessory plows like Tow Plows and wing plows have the potential to provide efficiencies in terms of plow cycle time, labor and equipment allocation, operating costs, increased level of service, and more.

A recent Clear Roads project is helping agencies quantify where adding accessory plows will have the greatest impact. Through a spreadsheet-based decision support tool, agencies can compare plowing efficiencies and life cycle costs of different snowplow types for specific plow routes. Learn more and download the tool:

Image source: Caltrans

Clear Roads Project Wins National PIARC Award March 30, 2022

A Clear Roads project has earned top honors among research presented by U.S. authors at the PIARC 16th World Winter Service and Road Resilience Congress, which was held last month in Calgary. The project, Defensive Driving for Snowplow Operators, was the subject of an award-winning paper presented at the conference by a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) research team led by principal investigator Matthew Camden.

PIARC’s U.S. National Committee selected the VTTI paper as the top entry by a U.S. author in the winter service category. The paper describes the team’s work in developing two new modules for Clear Roads’ snowplow operator training series: defensive driving and safe driving. Free for any public agency to download and customize, these training materials help operators learn to anticipate and prevent situations that can lead to snowplow crashes.

The study’s project champion, Doug McBroom of the Montana Department of Transportation, recently chatted about the project with Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program (SICOP) Coordinator Rick Nelson, host of AASHTO’s SICOP Talks Winter Ops podcast. Listen to their conversation on Episode 57 of the podcast.

Access the training modules: Clear Roads Training Resources

Winter Maintenance at the 2022 TRB Meeting March 14, 2022

Clear Roads has prepared a listing of technical sessions and posters related to winter maintenance that were presented at the 2022 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The list includes more than 15 papers and posters, with links to abstracts and presentation materials. The sessions covered a wide range of winter maintenance topics, including materials, equipment, technology and weather.

Download the list: Winter Maintenance at the 2022 TRB Annual Meeting

Note: TRB requires a login to access full papers and presentation materials. If you are having trouble accessing these materials, check with your DOT or other transportation library.

New Clear Roads Research: Tools for Snowplow Route Optimization Projects February 24, 2022

Using snowplow route optimization programs can reduce an agency’s winter maintenance costs by facilitating more efficient use of staff, equipment and materials. Developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for optimization services can be challenging and time-consuming, however.

To help expedite this process, a recently completed Clear Roads research project developed guidance on the technical requirements and key considerations for undertaking a plow route optimization program, including a contracting language template to help agencies build route optimization RFPs.

Download the final report and two-page brief: Synthesis of Technical Requirements and Considerations for Automated Snowplow Route Optimization, October 2021.

Image source: Missouri DOT