The U.S. DOT Joint Program Office (JPO) sponsored an evaluation to assess the benefits of using a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). An MDSS is a computer-based maintenance application that provides corridor-specific, weather-related information and road treatment recommendations. The MDSS integrates weather and pavement condition forecasts to determine the type and amount of treatment needed for maintaining a satisfactory level of service in winter while minimizing damage to road surfaces. In 2006, the DOT in Maine (MaineDOT) began to use an MDSS tailored for the Portland area. The MDSS was a product of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Road Weather Management Program (RWMP), which had made available a prototype MDSS to private vendors to develop into corridor-specific applications. This evaluation was conducted to understand the uses and benefits of an MDSS, as well as to examine institutional issues faced by MaineDOT’s Scarborough crew.
Weather presents a serious challenge to safety and mobility on our national system of roads and highways. Weather events, including winter storms, and even light rain or fog, can dramatically impact traffic flow and safety. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) seeks to address these weather-related transportation challenges through the provision of better information on the timing, location and extent of weather impacts, advanced warning of weather events, better integration of weather information into traffic operations, and the application of advanced tools to support decision making. One such tool is a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), which offers guidance for maintenance managers and engineers by providing forecasts of weather and pavement conditions and generating recommendations on efficient maintenance treatment strategies. An MDSS offers unique capabilities in support of operational decision-making, pavement treatment, and resource deployment.
This report presents the results of a case study evaluation of the deployment of an MDSS in Maine. The MDSS was deployed by Maine Department of Transportation's (DOT) Scarborough crew on a segment of interstate in the vicinity of Portland, in support of winter maintenance operations during the winter of 2006-2007. This evaluation was conducted to understand the uses and benefits of an MDSS, as well as to examine institutional issues faced by MaineDOT’s Scarborough crew and to identify a set of lessons learned. The methodology involved a careful tracking of each of 12 winter storm events, coupled with a reconstruction of the crew’s decision processes and treatment actions throughout each event. The documentation of the event reconstruction included the maintenance of logs by the Scarborough crew as well as post-event telephone interviews with the crew and their supervisor.
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