The National Academies

NCHRP 06-19 [Active]

Guidebook for Mechanical Methods for Snow and Ice Control Operations

  Project Data
Funds: $264,269
Staff Responsibility: Amir N. Hanna
Research Agency: Wilfred A.Nixon & Associates, LLC
Principal Investigator: Wilfred A. Nixon
Effective Date: 6/2/2021
Completion Date: 3/1/2023

BACKGROUND: Winter weather impacts the transportation network across North America; snow and ice control is a prime winter maintenance activity for many state departments of transportation and local agencies. Strategies that employ chemicals (primarily sodium chloride) and/or mechanical means for snow and ice control (e.g., brooming, plowing, scraping, and ice breaking) have been used by state and local agencies to maintain safe and passable roadways during wintertime weather events. Fluctuations in availability and cost of deicing chemicals have often hindered highway agencies’ operation. There are also concerns about the environmental impacts of these chemicals, their contribution to corrosion of motor vehicles, and their adverse effect on longevity of roadway infrastructure.  Reducing the dependence on use of chemicals and adopting strategies that rely on mechanical means for snow and ice control operations would yield environmental, economic, and safety benefits.

Currently, there are no widely accepted guidelines that address the strategies and practices for using mechanical means for snow and ice control operations. There is a need to identify, review, and evaluate such strategies and practices and develop a guidebook that addresses the different aspects of these operations and the selection of strategies for specific climatic, site, and traffic conditions. Such guidebook will help state departments of transportation personnel in making decisions regarding snow and ice control operations and implementing safe, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly strategies.



OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook on the use of mechanical methods for snow and ice control operations. The guidebook shall be prepared in a format appropriate for consideration and adoption by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Accomplishment of the project objective will require the following tasks.


PHASE I: (1) Collect and review relevant domestic and foreign literature, research findings, and information relevant to mechanical methods for snow and ice control operations to identify a scope for the proposed guidebook. This information may be obtained from published and unpublished information, and contacts with public and private organizations involved in such operations (e.g., highway and airport agencies). (2) Based on the information gathered in Task 1, propose an updated research plan to be executed in Phase II to develop a guidebook that (1) addresses all aspects of mechanical methods that may be used individually or in combination with chemical and non-chemical products and (2) the selection of strategies for specific climatic, site, and traffic conditions. The plan shall include a tentative outline of the proposed guidebook. (3) Prepare an interim report that documents the research performed in Tasks 1 and 2. Following review of the interim report by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to make a presentation to the NCHRP project panel. Work on Phase II of the project will not begin until the interim report is approved and the Phase II work plan is authorized by the NCHRP. The decision on proceeding with Phase II will be based on the contractor’s documented justification of the updated work plan.


PHASE II: (4) Execute the Phase II plan approved in Task 5 for developing the guidebook. Develop a draft version of each chapter and submit, as they are completed, for NCHRP review. (5) Assemble all chapters in a coherent document to serve as a draft version of the proposed guidebook. (6) Prepare and submit a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort and includes (1) a research report documenting the work performed in the project and used to develop the guidebook and (2) a stand-alone guidebook in a format suitable for consideration and adoption by AASHTO.

Status: Research in progress.

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