Snow is starting to fall across Vermont this week, just as the UVM Transportation Research Center begins work on two new research projects aimed at improving how transportation agencies keep roadways clear of ice and snow during the winter. The projects will be led by TRC researchers Jonathan Dowds and James Sullivan, who have worked with state transportation agencies to improve winter maintenance operations for the last eight years.
The first project aims to help the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) understand the relationships between winter storm severity and the cost and effectiveness of snow and ice control activities. The overarching goal of the project is to develop a tool that VTrans can use to more effectively plan its winter maintenance activities across a range of predicted weather conditions. The tool will improve VTrans' ability to budget for winter maintenance activities, and objectively assess their effectiveness.
The second project – funded by the Clear Roads National Research Consortium, a group of 36 state agencies that pool funding for winter maintenance research – aims to make it easier for DOTs to successfully undertake snowplow route optimization projects. Route optimization can result in significant savings for DOTs but the optimization process is complex and data-intensive, creating technical and contractual hurdles for DOTs that are interested in optimizing their snowplow routes. This project will develop clear guidance on the technical considerations that need to be incorporated into route optimization contracts, enabling transportation agencies to more easily and confidently contract for automated snowplow route optimization services and ensure that the optimized routes can be successfully implemented.
You can read more about the UVM Transportation Research Center’s previous winter maintenance research projects on our Research Reports webpage.