Winter maintenance personnel indicated that road weather information systems decrease salt usage, and anti-icing techniques limit damage to roadside vegetation, groundwater, and air quality (where abrasives are applied).
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United States

United States

Benefit/Cost Study of RWIS and Anti-icing Technologies: Final Report

Summary Information

A research project to document the benefits of anti-icing techniques and road weather information system (RWIS) technologies was initiated under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Benefits reported in the literature were supplemented with interviews from highway professionals.

Data were collected from:

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Focus Articles and Technical Briefs.
  • Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Symposium of Snow Removal and Ice Control Technology research reports.
  • Pacific Northwest Snowfighter Conference reports; Iowa State DOT Winter 1999-2000 debriefing reports.
  • Pennsylvania DOT’s anti-icing benchmarking project; vendors and consultants.
  • Highway agencies participating in the Lead States Program created by implementation of the Task Force on Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP).

Performance Measure
RWIS Benefits
Anti-icing Benefits
Environmental Quality
  • Improved quality as a result of reduced salt usage
  • Reduced impact on roadside vegetation, aquifers, and watercourses
  • Improved air quality as a result of reduced abrasive usage

Also noted were anti-icing disadvantages, which can be avoided with proper use of information from RWIS. Liquid anti-icing chemical usage in windy conditions can cause blowing snow to adhere to pavements. Pretreating roads with liquid chemicals may cause slippery conditions or lead to surface freezing if pavement temperatures fall below specific thresholds. Pretreated areas may necessitate subsequent treatment with solid materials.

The report concluded that anti-icing is an effective winter maintenance strategy that can minimize environmental impacts, however, anti-icing techniques should be carefully planned and executed based upon reliable, accurate data from a RWIS. Appropriate training of maintenance personnel (from decision makers to plow operators) and effective public information campaigns were also noted as key to the success of an anti-icing program.
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