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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / August 1996

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-96-019
Date: August 1996

Get the Latest Tips and Tools for Winter Maintenance

The snow and ice have long melted, but memories of the record-setting winter storms that struck the East Coast this past January are still fresh in the minds of the highway agencies that grappled with clearing the streets. To learn from their experiences and to prepare for whatever next winter will bring, winter maintenance managers and technicians will gather at two 1-day events next month in the Washington, D.C., area-the Eastern Snowbelt Cities Conference, hosted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), and the Eastern Winter Road Maintenance Symposium and Equipment Expo, organized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The Eastern Snowbelt Cities Conference, to be held September 10, will give elected officials and highway agency managers from cities, counties, and States information and tips on dealing with major snowstorms, such as the blizzard of 1996. Winter maintenance practitioners from cities that are hit hard by snow and ice every winter will discuss strategies and techniques for winter maintenance operations in both large cities and small towns, contracting out maintenance operations, public and community relations, and other subjects.

The Eastern Winter Road Maintenance Symposium, to be held September 11, "will provide an opportunity for winter maintenance practitioners from States, cities, and counties to learn of the latest developments in technology and how they may assist in providing more effective highway operations during winter storms," says FHWA's Byron Lord. "Information will be available on road weather information systems, communications, working with the media, and the latest in new materials and winter operations equipment. The event will also include technical workshops." Vendors from across the country will be on hand to demonstrate products for clearing roads, monitoring storms, and repairing pavements after the snow is gone. Many of the products were developed or evaluated under SHRP.

The conference and symposium continue a dialogue begun in May, when representatives of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area's transportation agencies, FHWA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other organizations met at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington to discuss winter maintenance issues and technologies.

The event was designed to bring together local transportation officials, FHWA staff, and others to determine how to better work together and use advanced technologies to minimize the effects of major winter storms on highway operations. New technologies on display included a variety of products developed and evaluated under SHRP, such as road weather information systems, anti-icing technologies, and an automated pothole patching vehicle.

FHWA's Lord highlighted the importance of the new SHRP anti-icing equipment in particular. "Ice bonds to pavement better than pavement does," he pointed out. But with anti-icing technology, crews apply deicing materials to the roads before a storm hits, preventing ice from bonding to the pavement and making ice and snow removal easier. The new anti-icing techniques also require fewer chemicals, thus saving money for the highway agency.

The significance of this new technology, as well as teamwork between neighboring highway agencies, was also stressed by Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater. "Transportation officials from around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for several months have been working together to identify ways they can improve highway operations during major winter stormsĀ¼.One of the most important lessons we learned is how important it is to be prepared," he said.

The event not only addressed snow and ice, but also one of the lingering effects of a harsh winter-potholes. To help the District of Columbia deal with repairing the many potholes that cropped up this year, Slater handed the District of Columbia Department of Public Works the keys to an automated pothole patching truck for a 90-day test and evaluation project. The truck uses the spray-injection method of repairing potholes, which is among the fastest and most effective means of fixing potholes. The aggregate and heated emulsion are simultaneously shot into the hole at high velocity. The District will evaluate the pothole patching truck and report its findings to FHWA.

The public event was followed by an informal discussion for Federal, State, and local highway maintenance staff. Winter maintenance experts talked about what they learned from the blizzard of 1996 and how they can better prepare for next winter. One idea already being put into action is the development of a directory of local contractors and equipment available to assist in the cleanup of major storms.

For more information on the Eastern Snowbelt Cities Conference, contact Joe Zelinka at MWCOG (telephone: 202-962-3270; fax: 202-962-3204).

For more information on the Eastern Winter Road Maintenance Symposium, contact Deborah Vocke at FHWA (telephone: 202-366-4855; fax: 202-366-7909. For registration and exhibition information, contact Saundra Bell at 21st Century Expo Group Inc. (telephone: 301-505-3976; fax: 301-505-1954). For hotel information, contact the Westpark Holiday Inn (800-368-3408). Ask for code WCG.

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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