Know Your Maintenance Routes? 10 Questions To Help You Understand Your Road Weather Challenges

Winter maintenance workers are often experts at developing familiarity with the roads they maintain because of the many hours spent working those routes. Maintenance workers that are relative beginners, however, will not have had the same experience and exposure.

“Every beginner possesses a great potential to be an expert in his or her chosen field.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

But while a beginner or even intermediate maintenance worker can’t speed up time, they can (and should) focus on expanding their knowledge of the areas they most frequently maintain. This knowledge is the key to creating a great winter maintenance strategy.

Whatever your experience level, here are 10 questions to get you thinking about how you can improve roadway safety on your routes, as well as some additional considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Where are bridges along the route located? Are these overpasses or underpasses?• Overpasses and bridges can ice up faster and stay cooler than surrounding pavement.• Underpasses present the additional challenges of frost or ice accumulation due to lack of sun exposure and are prone to debris falling from above
  2. Do you have any spots that are always shady?• Think about landscape, foliage, buildings, or bridges
  3. Are any of your routes affected by a nearby body of water?• Dew points may be higher in areas near/over water. This can lead to greater potential for road/bridge frost or iciness on the road if pavement temperatures approach the freezing point.
  4. Can you identify consistent problem areas?• What is that one area that is always worse than the others?
  5. Do you have commonly icy intersections?• Black ice can be caused by idling cars. Ice can build up quickly in busy intersections due to snow/compacted snow melting and refreezing.
  6. Do you have any blind intersections?• Take care when maintaining these areas, blind intersections are a potential hazard.
  7. Where are your hilly areas or curves?• Hills and curves are common problem areas for motorists. Some of your hills/curves may need extra treatment and care.
  8. Are there areas where traffic frequently backs up?• Ice can accumulate here by the same process that occurs in intersections (see above).
  9. Do you have any wide open areas with consistent blowing and drifting snow?• Areas next to snowy open fields are very susceptible to severe blowing snow conditions.
  10. If you manage routes without 24-hour operations, will weather move in overnight outside of operational hours?• Think about what actions you need to take the night before or the next morning when you get in to combat the weather on your route.

Whatever your familiarity or expertise with the maintenance routes under your jurisdiction, accurate forecasts more often than not depend on route-specific data. At Iteris, the information we have on your routes and your surrounding area is crucial to providing the most accurate forecast for your route(s). This involves getting details about the makeup of the roads in your area. If you set up routes through our web-based maintenance decision support system (MDSS), the following parameters will help us deliver the most accurate forecasts:

  • The average traffic across that route
    • Daily car and truck traffic counts
  • The type of lane
    • Driving or a passing lane (if you have more than one lane)
  • The makeup of the roadway surface and subsurface up to a meter below the surface
    • This includes asphalt/concrete types, gravel, and soil
  • Is the pavement sealed?
  • The sheltering of your route (standard, semi-sheltered, or sheltered)
    • This can be sheltering caused by landscape, foliage, buildings, or bridges
  • The speed limit on that stretch of road
  • The lane width
  • The traversal and cycle time
    • How long does it take you to traverse the route, and how long does it take to complete a full pass of the route and return to the beginning for another pass?
  • The materials you stock to apply to your road
    • These can include salt, magnesium, calcium chloride, etc.
  • Your hours of operation
    • 24 hour operations vs. specific limited hours
  • Level of service
    • Is this a high, medium, or low-priority route?
  • Bare lane regain time
    • The length of time after a winter event ends in which you are required to bring the route back to bare lane driving conditions

Iteris’ ClearPath Weather is the pavement forecast solution to your winter road maintenance challenges, combining the knowledge and experience you have of your roads with up-to-the-minute weather data, road condition observations and maintenance reports.
Additional ClearPath Weather features include:

  • Weather radar data for precipitation types and amounts
  • Nearby airport observations on atmospheric parameters (like temperature and precipitation)
  • Nearby road weather information system (RWIS) observations on atmospheric and pavement parameters (like pavement temperature and pavement condition)
  • Radiation from the Sun and Earth
  • Reports of maintenance (plowing or chemical applications) completed on the route. These are sent in from the MDSS mobile app or ClearPath Weather page
  • Weather and road condition reports sent in from the MDSS mobile app or ClearPath Weather page
  • MDC/AVL reports sent in to the system directly from integrated trucks
  • Mobile RWIS observations