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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January 1998

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-98-018
Date: January 1998

Training Is Key to Successful Anti-Icing Strategy in Pennsylvania

After last winter's successful anti-icing pilot projects, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) is making anti-icing techniques part of its winter maintenance strategy for the 93,000 lane-mi (150,000 lane-km) of roads it maintains. Combining anti-icing techniques with traditional deicing practices will require changes in the timing and method of applying chemicals to pavements. To make sure everyone involved is prepared for these changes, the Pennsylvania DOT, which is one of the members of the Lead States team for road weather information systems (RWIS) and anti-icing, is conducting training sessions on anti-icing techniques, materials, and equipment for managers and crew chiefs.

Pennsylvania DOT has so far held two 1-day training sessions, which were attended by approximately 150 people. Two more sessions are scheduled-one this month and one next spring. The sessions are open to staff from all levels of Pennsylvania DOT.

"We've trained managers, assistant county engineers, crew chiefs, and everyone in between," says Tucker Ferguson of Pennsylvania DOT, who helped to set up the training program. "We thought it was important to reach all levels, and for people to hear from someone with field experience with anti-icing."

Pennsylvania DOT called in Dale Keep of Washington State DOT to conduct the training sessions. Washington State is another member of the Lead States team for RWIS and anti-icing, and Keep is a member of FHWA's Ice Warriors team, whose members travel to highway agencies across the country explaining anti-icing techniques and other winter maintenance strategies and technologies.

At each training session in Pennsylvania, Keep explains the theory behind anti-icing strategies, how to use these techniques, and what materials and equipment are needed.

"I teach a decision-making process for using anti-icing," Keep says. "Anti-icing is a tool, like a hammer. With any tool, you need to know what to expect from the tool, when to get it out, how to use it, and when to put it away and use something else." Armed with this knowledge, Keep says, highway agency staff are ready to begin using anti-icing techniques and are prepared to fine-tune them for local weather and road conditions.

Pennsylvania DOT's training session also includes a presentation by the contractor who is building the zero-velocity chemical spreaders that are an integral part of the highway agency's anti-icing strategy. The spreaders release solid chemicals at the same speed but in the opposite direction as the maintenance truck is traveling. This helps to ensure that the chemicals do not bounce off the pavement as they are applied.

"Case studies have found zero-velocity spreaders to be very effective in deicing operations," says Ferguson. "Over the next couple years, we will be purchasing them for use on all interstate highways in Pennsylvania."

Pennsylvania DOT's investment in time, training, and equipment demonstrates the extent of the highway agency's commitment to using new technology in winter maintenance. "We see anti-icing as the way of the future," Ferguson says.

For more information on Pennsylvania DOT's anti-icing training sessions, contact Tucker Ferguson (phone: 717-787-6263; fax: 717-705-1426; email: tuckerferg@aol.com).

Training sessions get Pennsylvania DOT staff ready to use anti-icing techniques.

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