September 2017 Vol. 25, No. 3

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Clear Roads: research round-up

snowy roads

The following materials and much more are available at clearroads.org. Clear Roads is a national research consortium focused on rigorous testing of winter maintenance materials, equipment, and methods for use by highway maintenance crews. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is the lead agency.

Plug-and-Play Initiative: Phase II

As winter road maintenance has become more data driven, the lack of interoperability among different systems has started to limit agencies’ ability to collect and share data. Researchers identified data types that will enhance a plug-and-play protocol for data transmission between winter maintenance equipment and central offices or other point locations. An open protocol will allow interoperability between different vendors’ equipment and facilitate data sharing among agencies.

Best practices for snowplow route optimization

Well-designed snowplow routes allow winter maintenance agencies to make the most effective use of their fleets and improve mobility for the traveling public. This report provides an overview of computerized route optimization processes and gives recommendations about how to ensure that route improvement efforts produce actionable results. A review of snowplow route optimization projects showed that detailed data about a plow route network and close collaboration between route modelers and the operators who drive the routes are critical factors in an optimization project's success.

Contracting snow and ice response

Many agencies have chosen to contract winter maintenance services to supplement in-house services on an as-needed basis or as a long-term replacement for in-house services. Through a literature review and survey of transportation agencies, this project identified costs, benefits, best practices, and complexities related to contracting winter maintenance services. A solid working partnership between agencies and contractors and clearly written contracts are important components of successful contracting.

Monitoring stockpiles of solid winter maintenance materials

Finding the right method to take frequent, accurate measurements of stockpiles of solid winter maintenance materials can be challenging for transportation agencies. This synthesis sought best management practices for the accurate measurement of solid winter maintenance materials using technology and other measurement methods that are not technology-based. A national survey of state department of transportation winter maintenance experts was used to gather information about their stockpile measurement practices.

Snowplow truck washing practices

This synthesis identified best practices for washing salt from maintenance vehicles, including the use of in-house wash bays and off-site commercial washing facilities. All 33 states responding to a survey reported doing at least some in-house washing, either with or without wash bays. The synthesis also investigated wastewater management practices, with discharging wastewater to a sanitary sewer the most common disposal practice.

Product experience survey results

Every year, Clear Roads members complete a survey on the results of winter maintenance materials and equipment testing that their agencies have conducted during the previous winter. The 2016-17 survey is available, along with combined survey results from the 2006-2016 surveys.