Weather information costs range from $7,140 to $448,000 annually.

Benefit-cost analysis of weather information for winter road maintenance in three states

April 2009
Statewide,Iowa,United States; Statewide,Michigan,United States; Statewide,Nevada,United States

Summary Information

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Aurora Program funded this research project to provide a benefit-cost assessment of weather information in winter maintenance. Most states use a combination of free weather information, private sector weather providers, and Road Weather Information System (RWIS) as their weather sources.

A model for winter maintenance costs was developed and applied to three case studies in Iowa, Nevada, and Michigan. The research results should help transportation agencies to guide and direct future investment in weather services and technologies.

To prepare the benefit -cost analysis, the team calculated weather information costs per year. The costs for the three states were:

Iowa (2006-07)
  • RWIS Maintenance Contract: $130,000 per year. this includes the replacement of parts of road weather sensors, travel, software support, and labor costs.
  • Private sector weather forecast services: $298,000 per year.
  • Other costs: $20,000 per year. This cost was used to cover non-warranty issues, such as vandalism, damage from animals, and accidental damage.
Nevada (2006-07)
  • RWIS Maintenance Cost: $89,901 per year.
  • Private sector weather forecast services: $98,682 per year.
Michigan (2007-08)
  • Private sector weather forecast services: $7,140 per year. (Michigan DOT purchased weather forecasts for five counties at $1,428 per year each. It should be noted that nine counties were identified as using weather forecasts during this winter season.)
  • Michigan DOT did not pay for RWIS maintenance costs during this winter season. Of the 22 counties, five counties were identified as using RWIS information.

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Cost Benefits of Weather Information for Winter Road Maintenance

Author: Zhirui Ye, Christopher Strong, Laura Fay, and Xianming Shi

Published By: Iowa Department of Transportation

Source Date: April 2009


System Cost

Iowa: $448,000 per year
Nevada: $181,583 per year
Michigan: $7,140 per year


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RWIS, ESS, Environmental Sensor Station, RWIS Station, road monitoring, weather station, environmental sensing station, Road Weather Information System, RWIS

Cost ID: 2011-00214