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Development of a Surface Transportation Weather Decision Support Took and Strategic Plan for Improved Highway Operations in Montana

Started: October, 1999 Ended: September, 2004 Project ID #428468 Status: Completed


The objective of this project was to improve winter road maintenance decision making in Montana, recommend improvements in the use of current equipment, identify training requirements, and develop a concept for a new decision support tool.


In order to provide for safe and efficient winter highway maintenance and operations, the Montana Departments of Transportation must know of the current and forecasted road-weather conditions; have confidence that the information is accurate and reliable; and evaluate those conditions so that maintenance staff can allocate resources to manage the conditions. To help address these issues, MDT deployed a road-weather information system (RWIS) including 59 environmental sensor stations throughout the state. Maintenance staff also had access to a variety of other sources of information that could be used to help in winter maintenance. However, MDT found that these different sources of information were not used as fully as anticipated and that the purchased systems did not meet their long-term expectations. Western Transportation Institute teamed with Meyer Mohaddes and Associates to evaluate how MDT used RWIS and other tools to make winter maintenance decisions, recommended improvements in the process and equipment, and determined an appropriate tool to provide decision support. In order to meet the functional requirements of MDT, WTI and Meyer Mohaddes took  a systems engineering approach to understand the user perspectives. An early task was a review of research and an examination of the state-of the-practice in other states and of neighboring communities. MDT maintenance staff were surveyed and interviewed in order to gain a full understanding of their needs. Once user needs were understood, MDT and Meyer Mohaddes developed a concept for a decision support tool. Finally, the team collected the necessary guidelines, contact information, and other data that were included in the decision support tool. It was envisioned that the decision support tool would be developed with additional funds after this project completed.


Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • McFarland Management, LLC Sponsor

Part of: Safety and Operations

Project Tagged In: decision support systems, Road weather information systems, Weather Conditions

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