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Snow fighting in the 21st century

Snow fighting in the 21st century

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    Above: This bridge on Interstate 90 near Worthington, Minn., has one of several FAST systems installed by the Minnesota DOT. These fixed installations automatically spray ice control chemicals on the bridge deck prior to and during snow and ice events as determined by system software. Photo: Calvin Lucas, Minnesota DOT Metro District

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    Above: This brine truck is used by the New Hampshire DOT to implement a new anti-icing program on a section of Interstate 93 near Manchester. Photo: New Hampshire DOT. Left: This brine truck, operated by the city of West Des Moines, is pretreating a section of roadway prior to onset of a storm. Photo: Bret Hodne, West Des Moines

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    Advancements in technology have helped winter maintenance personnel in the city of West Des Moines, lowa, make better decisions for allocation of people, resources, and equipment. This leads to cost savings, better service, more efficient operations, and a reduced number of accidents. Photo: Bret Hodne, West Des Moines

Winter maintenance terms

Abrasives: sand, cinders, or other aggregate materials of a specific size placed on the roadway to increase surface friction.

Anti-icing: a general strategy that attempts to prevent the formation of a bond between the ice and pavement by the timely application of ice control chemicals. Chemicals may be applied before the event, early in the event, and as necessary throughout the event.

AVL: automatic vehicle locator—a device that uses GPS technology to track the location of a vehicle and provides this information through a computer interface.

Deicing: a strategy of allowing a bond to form between the ice and pavement during an event and periodically treating it with chemicals until the bond is broken and snow/ice can be mechanically removed or displaced by traffic.

FAST: fixed automated spray technology—a fixed snow and ice control system consisting of sprays mounted in parapet walls of a bridge or in pavement, chemical storage and supply facilities, and computerized controls linked with an RWIS. This system works automatically to apply chemical as needed.

GPS: global positioning systems—used with AVL systems to provide real-time data of snow plow locations.

Level of service (LOS): a set of operational guidelines and procedures that establish the timing, type, and frequency of treatments. (This definition is only to be used in the context of snow and ice control operations.)

Non-attainment: a designation received by a community which has not met air quality standards related to the amount of particulates in the air.

Prewetting: the application of liquid chemicals to salt or abrasives prior to use on the roadway.

RWIS: a road weather information system—roadside weather observation sites providing real-time weather and pavement data.

Salt brine: a mix of ice control chemical and water to a specific concentration optimum for snow and ice control operations.

TAPER: temperature, application, product, event, and results; a log that is kept by spreader operators.