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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

Monday, December 30, 2002
Contact: Bill Outlaw
Tel: 202-366-0660
FHWA 48-02

DOT Launches New Tool for Winter Road Maintenance

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced a new and more sophisticated weather information tool, the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), to assist winter road maintenance managers in predicting the impact of adverse weather conditions and planning treatment.

"Having access to proper weather and road condition information before and during adverse winter weather conditions will help transportation system managers take appropriate measures to keep roads open," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "MDSS will help make roads safer."

Under the department's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program, the FHWA built upon the maintenance approaches already used in the winter maintenance community today to develop MDSS.

The system combines standards of practice with the latest weather models and forecasting techniques. It uses advanced winter prediction capabilities to recommend courses of action. The system displays various maintenance alternatives and their resulting benefits, which will allow highway departments to deploy snowplows and improve road conditions more effectively while also reducing response costs. The system also will lead to more efficient use of chemicals, which will reduce the impact on the environment.

The system was designed to respond to the needs of state departments of transportation. Private industry has been engaged in the development process from the beginning and will build new products and services around the core capabilities of the MDSS.

Adverse weather conditions dramatically affect the nation's surface transportation system. Each year, 6,600 people die, 470,000 people are injured, and 544 million hours of time are lost on America's highways because of adverse weather conditions.

FHWA's Office of Operations developed MDSS through its Road Weather Management Program. The Office of Operations is committed to improving highway performance by advancing the management and operations of the transportation system in real time and in response to varying conditions. The MDSS and other useful materials are available on the FHWA's Road Weather Management Web site at http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/index.htm.


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