Costs data available for several advanced winter maintenance technologies: automatic vehicle location (AVL) range from $1,250 to $5,800 per vehicle; fixed automated spray technology (FAST) range from $22,000 to $4 million; and a large-scale multi-agency, 400-vehicle winter weather management system costs $8.2 million.

September 2006
Statewide,Alberta,Canada; Statewide,Colorado,United States; Statewide,Iowa,United States; Howard County,Maryland,United States; Statewide,Utah,United States; Statewide,Washington,United States

Summary Information

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program, under Project 20-7/Task 200, conducted a comprehensive literature review and agency survey on the implementation of advanced winter maintenance technologies. The results of the project were compiled in a synthesis report which identified seven key technologies that could make winter roadway maintenance more efficient, safer, and less costly. Such technologies include automatic vehicle location (AVL), surface temperature measuring devices, freezing point and ice-presence detection sensors, salinity measuring devices, visual and multi-spectral sensors, and millimeter wavelength radar sensors. Cost estimates for several winter roadway maintenance technologies are presented below.

Automatic Vehicle Location

Based on data from early implementers across the U.S. and Canada, the capital costs of AVL systems are highly dependent on the level of software customization of commercial-off-the-shelf packages as well as the type of sensors installed on the maintenance vehicles and how the vehicle was equipped prior to the AVL installation. When the systems were installed is also a factor as the cost of AVL technology has dropped over time. Based on six deployments, the cost per vehicle ranged from $1,250 to $5,800:
  • Alberta, Canada: $2,000 per vehicle, which included one plow sensor.
  • Colorado, USA: $1,250 per vehicle for the global positioning system (GPS) and communications hardware, and $285 for the optional touch screen displays.
  • Iowa, USA: $3,500-4,000 per vehicle.
  • Maryland (Howard County), USA: $4,800 per truck in 1999 dollars ($5,800 in 2006).
  • Utah, USA: $3,000 per truck.
  • Washington, USA: $1,250 per truck without sensors.
Communications is key cost driver of AVL operations and maintenance. For deployments in Alberta, Canada, Northern Virginia, and Aurora, Colorado, communications cost for AVL ranged from $40 to $60 per month per vehicle. Also, there are system-wide operations and maintenance costs that require due consideration. For example, the data administration and storage of Alberta’s AVL system costs $1,300 per month.

Fixed Automated Spray Technology

The fixed automated spray technology (FAST) is an anti-icing application that results in decreased use of chemicals and abrasives, reducing the costs of winter weather maintenance and improving the level of service and safety on the roadways. Nine respondents to a FAST survey indicated that cost of installations varied greatly, $22,000 to $4 million, depending on coverage area, site location, accessibility of existing utilities, system functionality and features, and market factors. Three installations illustrate the median cost range:
  • $250,000 for a FAST installation on a bridge on Interstate 315 in Utah in 2003. Additional costs were $7,000 for traffic control (during installation).
  • $300,000 Canadian dollar (CAD) or $14.20 per square feet (CAD) for a demonstration FAST installation on a bridge and approach area totaling 21,100 square feet in Ontario, Canada; operating costs were $15,000 (CAD) or $0.70 per square feet (CAD).
  • For later FAST deployments in Ontario, the cost of the basic spray systems ranged from $90 per square feet (CAD) on two-lane structures; advanced Road Weather Information System (RWIS) stations, or Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS), per FAST deployment cost $93,000 (CAD) each.
Operating and maintenance costs of the FAST systems are relatively low compared to the installation costs.

See Also: For additional information on FAST, see "Anti-Icing on Structures Using Fixed Automated Spray Technology (FAST)," a paper prepared for presentation at the Partnering with Construction and Maintenance Contractors to Achieve Environmental Protection Session of the 2001 Annual Conference of the Transportation Association of Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Multi-agency 400-vehicle Winter Maintenance System

The Southeast Michigan Snow and Ice Management (SEMSIM) project, completed after the 2003-2004 winter, was a four-agency initiative. Nearly 400 highway maintenance vehicles were equipped with global positioning system receivers and sensors to monitor snow plow use, rate of application for de-icing materials, and air and road temperatures. Each vehicle used a 900 MHz communications system to transmit data to a centralized system where the data were uploaded onto an Internet server and made available to the agencies. Sensors used were for spread rate, blade position, and temperature monitoring. Nearly $8.2 million was spent to equip approximately 400 vehicles with sensors and communications infrastructure.

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Vehicle-Based Technologies for Winter Maintenance: The State of the Practice - Final Report

Author: Xianming Shi, et al.

Published By: Paper presented at the 86th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, DC. January 2007.

Source Date: September 2006

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Cost ID: 2008-00142