Web-Based Preventative Blowing and Drifting Snow Control Calculator Decision Tool
Gary Wyatt, Diomy Zamora, David Smith, Dan Gullickson, Dean Current
Report no. MnDOT 2015-21
Topics: Snow and ice control
Blowing and drifting snow on Minnesota's roadways are transportation efficiency and safety concerns. Establishing standing corn rows, living and structural snow fences or proper grading during road construction improves driver visibility and road surface conditions and has the potential to lower costs of road maintenance as well as crashes attributed to blowing and drifting snow. These snow control solutions can also provide environmental benefits including carbon sequestration and avoidance of carbon emissions of snow removal operations. In recent years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has paid farmers to establish snow control practices to protect identified snow problem roadways. Using public funds to pay landowners to establish land practices, which benefit the public and reduce MnDOT winter costs, needs to be justified. In 2012, our research team created a Microsoft Excel cost-benefit-payment calculator to estimate payments to farmers that included consideration of safety and snow removal cost savings to the public and the transportation agency. We worked closely with MnDOT engineers and plow operators to estimate the safety and snow removal costs. This project translated the Microsoft Excel tool to a web-based tool that can be used on laptops, smartphones and tablets. Beta testing has been done with transportation officials to improve the web tool. Outreach plans are being conducted to inform transportation agencies of this tool and the cost benefit analysis it offers.