Iowa DOT Office of Maintenance Winter Operations Decision Support Tools

Project status

In progress

Start date: 06/01/17
End date: 10/31/18


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

About the research

Severe winter weather events cause delays and hazards for freight and commuter traffic. Winter maintenance operations, including road treatments and snow removal, help to mitigate such adverse weather impacts. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Maintenance is seeking to understand the road conditions achieved with the use of winter maintenance materials (i.e., plowing, rock salt, and brine) under various weather conditions.

In addition, the Iowa DOT spends about $1.5 million on plow blades annually. There are multiple blade types on the market and plow wear depends heavily on snow type, pavement type, and overall plow weight. It is difficult to tell which blade type provides the best cost per plowed mile on which pavement type. This project is part of the Office of Maintenance’s continuous efforts to improve the allocation and prioritization of winter maintenance resources. 

This project serves to support winter maintenance decision making through the development of data driven tools and analysis.This work is focused to support improved operational decision making for winter maintenance through three specific areas:

Heat Mapping: Develop a summary of AVL pings and display summary cost, material, and plow pass information on a map

Visualizing Maintenance Impacts: Provide a better understanding of the impact of winter maintenance on mobility and safety in user-defined time periods and locations

Plow Blade Wear Analysis: Conduct an analysis to understand plow blade performance based on experienced wear

This work is expected to have immediate implementation for both central office and highway division managers.



  • Federal Highway Administration State Planning and Research Funding
  • Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Midwest Transportation Center