Winter Maintenance

Snow drift held in check by roadside ditch, beyond which sits the living fence.

Article February 22, 2017
In Iowa, preparation for snow season never ends. Much of the warm weather work takes the form of planning for and planting living snow fences.   Living snow fences as a concept are nothing new. Their use harkens back to the windbreaks that protected farmsteads in the 1930s. As early as the 1960s,...
Article February 22, 2017
To the men and women who handle snow operations in Denver, twenty deployments each season to plow nearly 5 ft of annual snow is just another day at the office. It goes with the job, and the staff handle the shift changes and varying conditions with aplomb. Like much of the country, however, Denver...
News February 20, 2017
Visit our homepage and take this week's poll question, which discusses maintenance challenges for the 2016-2017 winter.

Image source: ADOT

News February 15, 2017
Sensors installed at three Interstate 40 locations west of Flagstaff are helping the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) forecast the likelihood of ice forming and respond accordingly.   The combination of freezing temperatures and moisture means ice can form overnight in Arizona’s high...
News December 19, 2016
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced plans to begin using rock salt to augment its use of magnesium chloride solution for ice and snow control on roads across the state.   Specific problem areas, such as steep hills, will get the rock salt to speed melting and improve...

Photo source: MDOT via Mining Journal

News December 19, 2016
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is banking on connected vehicle technology to help clear snow and ice from roadways faster. GPS-based automatic vehicle location devices, which the agency began installing on its winter road maintenance equipment in 2013, report where each truck is,...
Article December 05, 2016
There’s a 100% chance that the weather will change. The best tool road crews have to get out ahead of that changing weather is time. Having to “chase a storm” is costly and dangerous. Nobody’s happy: citizens, government officials, schools, businesses and least of all, the snow fighters who may...
News October 10, 2016
Visit our homepage and take this week's poll question, which looks ahead to winter and considers what protocols ought to be top-of-the-pile for agencies.
Case Studies September 28, 2016
Until recently, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) snowplow truck operators manually completed a work order documenting their spreading activities after each shift. At times, however, the orders were too generalized and lacked details needed by ITD fleet managers for analyzing operations. “...

The Clear Roads survey asked state winter maintenance departments for information about their vehicle fleets as well as add-on features. Courtesy Michigan Department of Transportation.

Article August 29, 2016
A single grain of salt weighs mere milligrams, but numbers add up quickly in the winter maintenance world.   States measure annual salt use by the ton. A fleet of plow trucks can be in the thousands. A state’s annual winter maintenance expenses are typically in the tens (or hundreds) of millions of...
Article August 29, 2016
In 2010, Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis, Minn., as the No. 1 bike city in the U.S.   The publication went on to say that the unforgiving and frigid Midwestern city is the country’s top spot to be an urban cyclist. Now we just have to figure out why. When I heard about that, I thought to...
Article August 29, 2016
Snowplow vehicles often perform in conditions of limited visibility, including darkness, fog, and falling or blowing snow.   The primary purpose of equipping snowplows with lighting is to make the roadway more visible for the operators, so they can complete their work safely. However, lighting also...
Article August 29, 2016
Gravel and loose-top surfaced roads were, in the earliest days of roadbuilding, pretty much all you got.   These roads made up the majority of mileage for any municipal agency. Maintaining these loose-top roads became the training ground for many operators both at the municipal and contracted level...

MaineDOT has outfitted its snowplow trucks with an electronic spreader control system that accurately records the amount of granular materials and liquids applied to winter roadways.

Article August 29, 2016
Twenty-five years ago the goal for a winter road-maintenance fleet manager was straightforward—keep highways safe for travelers and don’t worry too much about the amount of salt applied to roadway surfaces.   Automating key snow- and ice-control systems was not on any fleet manager’s short list of...
Article June 07, 2016
Snow removal season is prime time for road maintenance workers.   Venturing out into the bitter, wintry weather in their snowplows or winter maintenance vehicles, crews are tasked with protecting the average citizen from the perils of snowstorms by eliminating snow and ice from major roads and...
Article February 08, 2016
For some, imagining farm country in the winter can conjure up peaceful bucolic scenes of snow blanketing an expansive and dormant landscape—the crops have been harvested, and it is a state of rest.    On the roads, however, these landscapes receive such snow in the winter as to create a state of...
News January 29, 2016
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) would rather be safe than sorry. FDOT held a winter weather exercise to test out its winter operations equipment in order to avoid a situation two years ago where they were unprepared for icy road conditions.   Ian Satter, spokesperson for the Florida...
News January 20, 2016
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is investing in technology to assist with snow removal for the state’s roadway system.   Technological advances ODOT is taking include the use of weather stations, embedding sensors in the roadways and equipping snow plows with in-cab touch-screen...
News December 30, 2015
Officials within the Alaska Department of Transportation (ALDOT) are looking at budget cuts outlined in Governor Bill Walker's recently published state budget proposal in advance of a pending legislative session. Cuts that may well have a significant impact on the agency’s ability to address...
News November 23, 2015
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is testing new GPS technology in Southwest Michigan to help the public track of what major roadways snowplows are working on this winter.   Using GPS technology, members of the public will be able to see the location of plow trucks and where salt is...
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