• The Ohio DOTs three-tiered snow and ice performance evaluator combines National Weather Service, pavement condition, and traffic data.

    Credit: ODOT

    The Ohio DOT’s three-tiered snow and ice performance evaluator combines National Weather Service, pavement condition, and traffic data.

Two-hour recovery goal

Performance evaluation begins when the storm ends. Districts are graded based on how quickly they get the highway back up to the expected road speed.

“When we began discussing the idea, we started with the motoring public,” says transportation engineer John MacAdam. “And what do drivers care about? They care about roadway speed.”

Last year, if recovery time was less than three hours, the goal was met and the district received a 100% rating. If it took longer than six hours, the district failed and received a 0%. Recovery times of three to six hours received pro-rated grades.

The system was enhanced to generate monthly performance reports. Event grades for the month are averaged to determine a district’s overall grade. This year, ODOT raised the bar and established two hours as the maximum allowable recovery time. Now a district either passes or fails. “It’s purely data-based,” says MacAdam.

The new system has paid off for the public and the department.

In 2013, Ohio was the only state DOT to receive an American Public Works Association Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award. Deputy Operations Director Sonja Simpson was named Professional Manager of the Year for Administrative Management.

“The public is less tolerant of failure in snow and ice control than in any other highway function,” says Director Jerry Wray, the longest serving director in ODOT’s 110-year history. As he worked with his executive staff to develop performance standards, it was universally agreed that operational effectiveness in the war on snow and ice would be among them.

“A snowstorm affects the entire community and often the entire state,” says Wray. “If not handled capably, it upsets the daily routines of individuals, adversely affects business, and endangers public safety and public servants. One of our guiding principles is that we will be the standard of excellence for winter maintenance.”

Pieter Wykoff is public affairs officer for the Ohio DOT. E-mail pieter.wykoff@odot.gov; telephone 614-728-8698.