Mid-America Transportation Center


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Report # MATC-UNL: 423 Final Report 25-1121-0001-423


Copyright 2011 Mid-America Transportation Center


The ability of state DOTs to adequately clear roadways during winter weather conditions is critical for a safe and effective freight transportation system. Variables affecting winter maintenance operations include the type of precipitation, air and pavement temperature, traffic, wind, time of day, day of week, and maintenance equipment. The main objective of this study is to identify the best practices for normal deicing operations, based on the performance rating of deicing chemicals. Optimum deicer/brine ratios and the associated application rates will be determined for various weather conditions. The best practices will ensure effective deicing operation and economical use of deicing chemicals. Common deicing chemicals include sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, potassium acetate, potassium formate and carbohydrate–based (corn or beet) deicer solution. Deicers take the form of pellets or liquids. Liquid deicers are commonly used for prewetting road salt or other chemicals, or they are used as liquid solution. Several laboratory tests for deicer performance evaluation have been developed. However, none of these tests have been correlated with field performance data nor have they provided standardized results to ensure an acceptable performance in the field. Nebraska will serve as the test bed for this study although the results can be generalized to other locations. This is an ideal test site because a large quantity of automatic vehicle location (AVL) system data from NDOR plow trucks will be available. The AVL data includes truck location with GPS coordinates and time stamps. In addition, the snow plow trucks are equipped with digital cameras, which take snapshots of the roadway. These onboard systems will also provide real-time surface temperatures, air temperatures, wind speed, deicer application rates, and roadway conditions. The field data will be available for correlation analysis with the data from laboratory testing through the use of a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). The correlations between the field deicing performance and the laboratory testing are crucial for the development of the best practices using competing deicing products for a variety of weather conditions. The end result will be clearer roads during snow events, which will lead to a safer and more efficient freight and passenger roadway system.