Latest News

Winter Research Lightning Talks from Minnesota DOT February 16, 2021

Clear Roads is pleased to share the following opportunity from lead state Minnesota DOT:

Winter maintenance professionals from all agencies are invited to join Minnesota DOT’s Winter Research Lightning Talks on Wednesday, February 24, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. CST. 

The event will include 5-minute presentations from researchers about five in-progress MnDOT research projects:

The event is free, and no registration is required. To receive a copy of the webinar recording, email research.dot@state.mn.us. This event is provided by MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation and Office of Maintenance. To join:

Microsoft Teams Meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only):

+1 763-317-4323, 147459721#

Questions? Email research.dot@state.mn.us.

MnDOT invites and encourages participation by all. If you need an ASL or foreign language interpreter or other reasonable accommodation, or need documents in an alternative format (such as Braille or large print), please email your request to Janet Miller at ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us or call 651-366-4720.

Image credit: Dave Gonzalez, Minnesota DOT

Green Warning Lights Enhance Plow Truck Visibility in Michigan February 11, 2021

A Michigan DOT research study confirmed that adding green strobe lights to existing amber warning lights on winter maintenance vehicles increases the trucks’ visibility to other motorists.

Researchers evaluated dozens of lighting configurations to identify the best options for increasing the plows’ visibility while minimizing glare. MDOT began using green warning lights on winter maintenance vehicles in 2016.

Read more:

Image source: Michigan DOT

New Podcast Episode from SICOP Talks Winter Ops February 4, 2021

AASHTO’s SICOP Talks Winter Ops podcast is back with new episodes for 2021. Check out the latest episode, and catch up on podcasts you may have missed:

  • Let’s Break the Ice (Episode 44): Jed Falgren and Jeff Perkins of Minnesota DOT talk about mechanical ice breakers, which make short work of ice pack without the need for chemical deicers. February 2021. Podcast.
  • What’s New in FHWA Road Weather Management? (Episode 43): Updates from David Johnson and Tony Coventry of FHWA’s Road Weather Management Program. November 2020. Podcast.
  • What’s Up with the Weather? (Episode 42): Mike Alger, chief meteorologist at KTVN-TV in Reno, Nevada, sheds light on weather phenomena like the polar vortex and atmospheric rivers and discusses what they mean for maintenance crews. October 2020. Podcast.
  • The Latest Word on Alternate Methods for Deicing (Episode 41): Laura Fay from the Western Transportation Institute at the University of Montana talks about her recently completed Clear Roads project, Alternative Methods for Deicing. The report helps maintenance managers better understand the performance and impacts of various alternative deicing methods. October 2020. Podcast.
  • Webinar: 5th State Showcase – Successful Maintenance Training in a Virtual Environment. October 2020. Webinar recording (72 min.).
  • Smart Salting for Sustainability (Episode 40): Connie Fortin of Fortin Consulting discusses environmental considerations for a sustainable winter maintenance program. September 2020. Podcast.
  • COVID Impacts on Maintenance Operations (Episode 39): Leaders of the AASHTO Maintenance Committee’s Maintenance Operations Technical Working Group discuss the adjustments their agencies have made in maintenance operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Brad Darr of North Dakota DOT, Rebecca Allmeroth of Missouri DOT and Emily McGraw of North Carolina DOT. August 2020. Podcast.
  • Winter Service by Contract (Episode 38): Frank Rizzardo of British Columbia-based maintenance contractor Emcon Services discusses winter maintenance from a contractor’s perspective and shares how one agency transitioned to contracting out highway maintenance work. August 2020. Podcast.
New Clear Roads Synthesis Report: Weather Forecasting Practices January 28, 2021

A new Clear Roads synthesis project surveyed state DOTs about how they meet their weather forecasting needs, including which approaches are effective and what additional resources would be valuable. The project also examined the practices DOTs use to convey information about forecasts and road weather conditions to operators in the field.

Read the synthesis report: Resources, Practices and Needs for Weather Forecasting to Facilitate Winter Road Maintenance, December 2020.

Image source: Gary Wyatt, University of Minnesota Extension

Winter Maintenance at 2021 TRB Meeting January 15, 2021

Clear Roads has prepared a listing of technical sessions and posters related to winter maintenance that will be presented at the virtual 2021 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The list includes more than 20 papers and posters, with links to abstracts and presentation materials. The sessions will cover a wide range of winter maintenance topics, including materials, equipment, technology and weather. Download the list: Winter Maintenance at the 2021 TRB Annual Meeting

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

National Survey Compiles Sixth Year of Winter Maintenance Data January 8, 2021

Clear Roads has published its sixth Annual Survey of State Winter Maintenance Data, which compiles data on winter resources, materials and costs from 36 states for the 2019-2020 winter season. The interactive spreadsheet-based tool includes a United States map that displays many of these metrics. The tool includes six years of data, and displays averages and changes across winter seasons. See the project page.

Recent Clear Roads Research December 3, 2020

Check out these recent Clear Roads research reports:

  • Synthesis Report: Mechanic/Operator Equipment Training, August 2020.
    This synthesis report identified the training materials that state DOTs and others have developed on topics including pre- and post-trip inspections and diagnosing and correcting equipment problems. Synthesis report.
  • Alternative Methods for Deicing, Clear Roads Project 18-05, July 2020. Researchers created a compendium of alternative deicing methods and technologies, ranging from low-investment process changes to larger mechanical improvements. Final report and research brief.
  • Safe Driving and Defensive Driving Training for Snowplow Operators, Clear Roads Project 18-01, June 2020. This project added two new modules to Clear Roads’ training materials for snowplow operators. Final report, training modules and research brief.
  • Test Bed Software for Plug-and-Play Technology, Clear Roads Project 13-05, April 2019. Researchers created a web portal that lets vendors test spreader controllers and AVL equipment for compatibility with the Clear Roads Communications Protocol—a key step toward plug-and-play device compatibility. White paper and research brief.

To see all completed and in-progress Clear Roads projects, visit the Research by Topic page.

Updated Guidance for Qualified Products List (QPL) October 28, 2020

Clear Roads has updated the guidance document that outlines how deicing products are evaluated for inclusion on the Clear Roads Qualified Products List (QPL). The revised guidance defines the product submittal process, outlines product specifications and testing protocols, and provides suggested language that agencies can use in their purchasing documents for winter materials.

Clear Roads provides guidance and administration for the QPL, which was created to review, test and approve products used for winter maintenance and to provide guidance in the selection and purchasing of environmentally responsible products. For more information, visit the QPL page.

New RFP: Proposals Due October 28 September 17, 2020

Clear Roads is currently soliciting investigator proposals for a new research project:

  • Evaluation of Indoor Automated Stockpile Measurement Systems

Please see the RFP page for more information. The deadline to submit proposals is Wednesday, October 28, 2020.

Winter Maintenance News: Peer Exchange Postponed August 12, 2020

The National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange originally scheduled for September 2020 has been postponed until the fall of 2021. More details will be available soon from the event organizers.

Sponsored by TRB, Aurora, Clear Roads and the Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program (SICOP), the peer exchange provides an opportunity for practitioners across the country to collaborate in identifying the most critical research needs for advancing the state of the practice in winter maintenance. Presentations and other materials from past peer exchanges are available on the SICOP website.

Check out the latest episodes of the SICOP Talks Winter Ops podcast:

  • Episode 37: RWIS—How Many and Where? Dr. Tae Kwon from the University of Alberta discusses a recent project conducted for the Aurora consortium on optimal placement of RWIS sensor stations. June 2020. Podcast.
  • Episode 36: Decisions, Decisions: Dave Huft of South Dakota DOT discusses how agencies use maintenance decision support systems (MDSS) to help evaluate information about an approaching storm and make decisions about treatment strategies. June 2020. Podcast.
  • Episode 35: Maintenance Goes to College: Program Director Susan Baillargeon provides an overview of the online associate’s degree program in Highway Maintenance Management offered by Front Range Community College in Colorado. May 2020. Podcast.