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North American Study on Contracting Snow and Ice Response

Started: November, 2015 Ended: December, 2016 Project ID #4W5856 Status: Completed

Results & Findings

The final report included the following conclusions based on the literature review, survey, and synthesis of information:
  • Much of the available information on contracted services is provided in the context of general maintenance, and only rarely specifically addresses contracted services for winter maintenance operations.
  • The main reasons for agencies to seek contractors for snow and ice response include: 1) lack of resources, 2) a state-level movement toward outsourcing or privatization, and 3) cost comparisons.
  • In general, winter maintenance agencies use four types of contracting methods for snow and ice response: 1) rental agreements or short-term contracts, 2) defined amount of work or recurring work contracts, 3) blended forces and 4) asset management and public-private partnership contracts.
  • Performance-Based Maintenance Contracts (PBMC) are increasingly popular in the United States and Canada. In PBMC, winter maintenance agencies usually set a minimum Level of Service (LOS) and response time to measure the performance.
  • In most cases, winter maintenance agencies tend to rely on contractors to provide their own snow and ice equipment. Conversely, snow and ice control material (salt, sand, etc.) are commonly provided by the winter maintenance agencies.
  • Studies have shown the need for minimum standards for the equipment used by contractors such as replacement time of aging equipment and upgrading to new technologies.
  • It is generally perceived that urbanized areas, which have a higher density of contracting firms, are a more favorable environment to use contractors for snow and ice control functions. However, contractors are willing to work in remote areas if the size and duration of contracts are large enough.

Objective

The goal of this project was to identify the state of the practice in contracting for snow and ice control operations by state departments of transportation; through the documentation of practices by states, costs, benefits, and lessons learned.

Abstract

Contracting winter maintenance services has been a key operational strategy for many state and local road agencies, but little work has been done to clearly define the extent of use of contract services in winter operations and to summarize the-state-of-the-practices. In this context, there is an urgent need to capture information on the state-of-the-practice and state-of-the-art when using contracted services, as well as identify lessons learned by agencies so this information is not lost. The goal of the proposed research project was to identify the state of the practice in contracting for snow and ice control operations by state departments of transportation; through the documentation of practices by states, costs, benefits, and lessons learned. The final product should serve to aid and inform winter maintenance managers. This project is conducted through the Clear Roads Research Program.  

Contacts

Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) Sponsor

Part of: Winter Maintenance and Effects, Cold Climate Operations & Systems

Project Tagged In: snow and ice control, contracting

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