On October 13, 2022, members of the Lake George Association in upstate New York hosted their annual Salt Summit to discuss strategies and technologies for reducing road salt. Clear Roads member Joe Thompson of New York State DOT spoke at the event, sharing highlights of the in-progress Clear Roads research project investigating ways agencies can improve their winter maintenance operations to recognize environmentally sensitive road segments.
Watch a video of Joe’s presentation on Youtube.
As temperatures drop, sodium chloride loses its deicing power. Depending on conditions, adding more salt to a roadway may be ineffective and wasteful.
To help maintenance managers make the most of their stockpiles and keep roads clear, this Clear Roads research project investigated how salt behaves at different temperatures and concentrations. With a new tool and other educational materials from Clear Roads, practitioners can better understand how and when to apply sodium chloride for best results.
New tools and training materials developed by Clear Roads are featured in an article in the October issue of APWA Reporter. Designed to help state and local transportation agencies save time and money on their winter maintenance operations, these new resources resulted from three recent Clear Roads research projects:
- CR 19-03: Measuring the Efficiencies of Tow Plows and Wing Plows
- CR 19-04: Technical Requirements and Considerations for Automated Snowplow Route Optimization
- CR-21-04: Training Module Development for Evaluation of Storm Severity Index and Winter Severity Index Variables
All resources are free and available for download from the Clear Roads website.
Clear Roads is currently soliciting investigator proposals for a new research project:
- Effects of Additives in Deicing Salts at Lower Temperatures
Please download the RFP document and DBE special provisions for more information. To view the details of this RFP, visit MnDOT’s Professional Technical Consultant Services. The deadline to submit a proposal is Wednesday, November 9, 2022.
Does your organization have a laboratory that tests deicing products? AASHTO re:source is looking for you!
Clear Roads is partnering with AASHTO re:source to help laboratories improve and standardize their testing protocols for winter materials used for anti-icing/deicing applications.
Through its new Proficiency Testing Program, AASHTO re:source is helping to improve the quality of test standards, materials, and technician competency at labs that evaluate solid and liquid deicing products. Once a year, AASHTO re:source provides participating laboratories with product samples to test and then scores the labs on their testing performance.
The Proficiency Testing Program is available at no cost for AASHTO member departments; the cost is $275 per year for other participating laboratories.
Read more about how to participate.
New Hampshire DOT’s study of LED snowplow lights and Iowa DOT’s investigation of self-heating electrically conductive concrete recently captured national attention as two of AASHTO’s High Value Research winners for 2022. The award recognizes the nation’s top high-value research projects as chosen by state DOT research directors in each of the four AASHTO regions.
In New Hampshire, an in-house project quantified the benefits of LED plow headlights compared with traditional halogen bulbs. The study found that the LED headlights improved operator visibility and reduced eye fatigue, and a cost-benefit analysis showed that the lights’ lower maintenance requirements led to significant cost savings compared with halogen bulbs.
In Iowa, a three-year demonstration project evaluated the performance of an electrically heated concrete system that incorporates conductive carbon fibers within the concrete mix. The concrete, which can melt snow and ice without the use of deicers, could one day be a sustainable option for icy trouble spots that are not easily cleared during winter storms.
The two projects were honored last month at the annual AASHTO Research Advisory Committee meeting. For more on these award-winning projects:
- New Hampshire DOT (Region 1): LED Snowplow Lights | Final report | One-page brief
- Iowa DOT (Region 3): Self-Heating Electrically Conductive Concrete | Final report | Two-page brief
Congratulations to all the High Value Research winners!
Image source: New Hampshire DOT
Clear Roads’ popular commercial driver’s license (CDL) training materials are in the news. An article in the August issue of APWA Reporter spotlights how agencies are using the comprehensive, step-by-step training program, which is designed to help agencies comply with new federal regulations as they train equipment operators who need to obtain or upgrade a CDL.
The free training program provides a complete curriculum for the classroom and behind-the-wheel components of CDL training, including eLearning files for use with learning management systems. Train-the-trainer resources and process guidance are provided to help agencies implement the program.
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.
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:
- Recruitment and Retention of Highway Maintenance Workers, Clear Roads, July 2021.
- Entry-Level Driver Training (CDL) for Maintenance Equipment Operators, Clear Roads, September 2021.
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