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Winter Maintenance and Effects – It’s not just about moving snow…

(Introduction from April 2011 eNews)
The calendar tells us it is spring, but for those of us in the northern regions of the country, it may be wishful thinking and a bit premature to remove the snow tires on our vehicles just yet. As we reflect on this winter, we remember hazardous Thanksgiving driving, Christmas snowstorms that buried New York City, and an ice storm blanketed by a snow storm in Dallas, Texas just days before the much hyped Super Bowl XLV. North, south, east, west, every region of the country experienced some form of atypical winter weather condition that ultimately caused traveling hiccups.

Winter travel delays will never be eliminated, but research conducted at WTI will help travelers make informed decisions about routes and assist state departments of transportation (DOTs) with decisions regarding infrastructure maintenance and future investments. We address a variety of cross-cutting,
multi-disciplinary issues faced by today’s transportation industry, particularly those related to sustainable maintenance activities and materials integrity in cold climates. It is not just about whether or not the deicer works on the road surface, but how quickly it works. What are the corrosion effects to the vehicle, to the roads, to bridges? What about the wildlife grazing near these chemical treated roadways?

From the WTI Corrosion and Sustainable Infrastructure Laboratory, to the Montana State University Sub-zero Science and Engineering Facility, to TRANSCEND – WTI’s outdoor test track, WTI researchers have state-of-the-art tools to conduct cutting edge experiments. Our results provide answers to these questions and will ultimately improve driver safety in hazardous winter conditions, as well as sustain the environment and protect wildlife and their habitat.

In this issue, you’ll see the diversity of our winter maintenance program – deicer longevity research for eleven state DOTs participating in a pooled fund study, identifying products and best practices that will protect DOT equipment from corrosion, and testing the defrost capabilities of a locomotive windshield at -40 degrees. You’ll also learn about a website in development that will display road conditions for a four state region on a single website: One-Stop Shop!

If you are interested in solutions and collaborating with WTI on Winter Maintenance and Effects projects or to find out more about our research facilities, please contact the Winter Maintenance Program Lead, Laura Fay.