The Clear Roads research program, which sponsors practitioner-focused winter maintenance research, is highlighting a recently completed severity index project on its website. For “Evaluation of SSI and WSI Variables,” the Narwhal Group and WTI collaborated to create a step-by-step guide to support implementing a severity index, paired with a flowchart tool that helps match users with existing indexes.
These tools will help winter maintenance agencies select the most appropriate storm severity index and winter severity index to compare storms across more than one winter season. “While a number of severity indexes exist, determining if you can apply or modify one for your needs or develop your own can be a daunting task. This guide and flowchart tool will support agencies in this task,” said Cold Climates Program Manager Laura Fay, who served as a co-PI. The final report is available on the WTI project webpage and there is a research brief on the Clear Roads project page.
Montana is not the only place concerned with keeping the roads clear and safe during the winter months. Over the last year, WTI’s Cold Climate Operations and Systems program has added a number of new projects with multi-state partnerships to improve the tools, resources, and staffing available to winter maintenance agencies.
Roadway Friction Modeling:
Improving the Use of Friction Measurements in State DOTs. States often use road
friction measurement devices as guidance for snow removal activities, but there
are challenges with interpreting the readings from multiple sensors. The goal
of this project is to conduct friction testing that will improve the
understanding of the relationship between weather conditions and road friction,
which in turn will help to standardize data obtained and improve the ability of
state DOTs to use these devices to predict friction on roadways. This is a joint research effort with the National
Center for Atmospheric Research, sponsored by the Aurora Pooled Fund Research Program.
Ongoing Issues with
Winter Weather Severity Indices. Many state DOTs use winter-focused Weather
Severity Indices (WSI) (aka Severe Weather Indices (SWI) or Storm Severity
Indices (SSI)) to measure performance and manage winter maintenance operations.
However, most WSIs lack the capability to capture more complex winter
conditions, such as the impact of blowing and drifting snow. Through this
project, WTI will create a working group of experts to advance the state of the
practice of weather severity indices (WSI). This is a joint research effort
with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is sponsored by the Aurora Pooled Fund research program.
Recruitment and Retention
of Highway Maintenance Workers. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and
local public works departments (DPW) are grappling with recruiting, retaining,
and training a highly proficient roadway maintenance workforce, including
winter maintenance specialists. The goal of this project is to produce a
concise, comprehensive guide of innovative but practical ways for DOTs/ DPWs to
recruit and retain a highly proficient, productive, versatile, and committed
roadway maintenance workforce. The
project is sponsored by the Clear Roads research
Cold Climate Program Manager Laura Fay is encouraged by the strong interest in winter maintenance
collaborations: “WTI was one of the early advocates of winter maintenance peer
exchanges, which really facilitated the sharing of best practices for
operations. Now there are opportunities to work together on advancing new
technologies and other tools that may also make it easier to monitor and manage
roads in severe weather conditions.”