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Chapter 8 (Revised August 2013)
Winter Operations and Salt, Sand, and Chemical Management
8.6. Monitoring and Recordkeeping

To facilitate deicer environmental management, it is important to monitor environmental parameters and have sound record keeping practices. Such data will greatly assist in the understanding of deicer migration from work sites and roadways to the adjacent environment. Good practices of equipment calibration, deicer monitoring and record keeping will also aid in assessing cost saving, productivity, etc. Consider documenting the following data on a regular basis:

  • Salt stored under cover
  • Storage sites with collection and treatment of wash water and drainage
  • Inspection and repair records
  • Stockpiling records
  • Brine production quality control (e.g., concentrations)
  • Pavement temperature trends in daily logs, along with pavement conditions, weather conditions and winter treatment strategy (TAC, 2003)

To enable benchmarking, the maintenance agency may also consider obtaining a baseline condition of the working sites and surrounding areas before the deicer application. This will provide a reference for future monitoring and comparisons. The amount of material used during the year should be monitored. Advanced sensing devices (e.g., weight-in-motion - WIM sensors or scale sensors) for truckload tracking can be combined with the routine monitoring to provide more accurate information for operators and managers (TAC, 2003). The maintenance agency may report the following activities or conditions:

  • Total length of road on which salt is applied
  • Winter severity rating
  • Total number of events requiring road salt application during the winter season
  • Materials usage (e.g., total quantity of road salts used)
  • Description of non-chloride materials used for winter road maintenance
  • State of calibration equipment
  • Average chloride concentration and frequency of sampling at each sampling location, if available (Highway Deicing Task Force Report, 2007)

A major component of deicer monitoring is the monitoring of chloride levels in roadways and in water bodies. While it is not practical for most road authorities to monitor the chloride level in all the stormwater runoff from roadways, consider monitoring of salt-vulnerable areas. A good example comes from a municipality in Canada, who worked with their local conservation authority to add chloride sensors to their stream monitoring network.

Data obtained from the deicer monitoring and record keeping can be used to determine whether and how a particular measure (e.g., new winter maintenance technique) or event affects the natural environment (e.g., chloride levels in the aquatic environment). According to the TAC (2003), "specific staff should be tasked with monitoring what is brought onto each site, what is being discharged from the site, any onsite or downstream contamination and environmental impacts".

8.6.1 Evaluating Treatment Effectiveness
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AcIt is beneficial to conduct post-storm evaluations of the treatment effectiveness. This can be done at the shop level as an informal talk with operators and/or as a formal review. Post-storm reviews allow for discussions of what worked and what did not work, and provides an open dialog between operators and supervisors on their expectation, needs, and performance. Things that can be discussed:

  • Was the forecast accurate? Were you prepared heading out?
  • Was our prescribed treatment sufficient?
  • Was the prescribed treatment modified? If so how?
  • What worked? What did not work?
  • Compare LOS guidelines with what was actually achieved Environmental Performance Measures for Winter Operations

A performance measure is a tool used to assess progress toward achieving defined goals (FHWA, 2012). The following environmental factors and performance measures that apply to winter maintenance operations have been identified (Environmental Plan, 2008; SHRP, 2009):

  • Ecosystems, habitat and biodiversity - Maintain or improve ecological functions of affected ecosystems or habitat.
  • Water quality - maintain or improve water quality and minimize indirect impacts on water quality at the watershed scale.
  • Wetlands - minimize taking of wetlands and impacts to "high-quality" wetlands.
  • Air quality - meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards and reduce particulate matter hotspot violations.

Information needed to assess the environmental performance measures listed above includes hydrologic, biological, and or atmospheric data. Remote sensing equipment, GIS and AVL facilitate data collection, analysis and reporting (SHRP, 2009), but additional monitoring equipment may be needed for data collection in aquatic bodies, the atmosphere, and or environments adjacent to the road.

Examples of environmental performance measures put into action are provided below.

  • Washington State DOT developed the Environmental Procedures Manual which states, "various general practices and specific practices (such as BMPs) that WSDOT will use to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to fish and aquatic habitat" (WSDOT, 2012). Also discussed are the Roadside Vegetation Management Plans which covers soils, plants and wetland mitigation and the Wetlands Protection and Preservation Policy P2038 pertaining to wetland stewardship.
  • State DOT Environmental Programs: Evaluation and Performance Measures provided the following information on environmental operations and performance measures from state DOTs (CTC & Associates, 2007):
    • Arizona - Environmental Planning Group (EPG) Annual Report for FY 2006. EPG uses a variety of methods to continuously monitor its performance and improve its value to the ADOT organization, including the number of environmental clearances actually issued within a fiscal year. Process improvements include the rollout of Version 1.2 of a centralized project tracking system database.
    • California - Standard Environmental Reference. The Caltrans Division of Environmental Analysis manages the Standard Environmental Reference, an online resource to help state and local agency staff plan, prepare, submit and evaluate environmental documents for transportation projects.
    • Florida - Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Performance Management Plan. FDOT, through its Central Environmental Management Office, is implementing the Efficient Transportation Decision Making process. The ETDM Performance Management Plan illustrates the benefits of collecting, monitoring and reporting on performance measures such as the ability to continuously monitor program area performance, identify problems early and develop efficient and effective solutions and to recognize and promote successes.
    • New York-
      1. Environmental Audit - NYSDOT conducts an annual State Agency Environmental Audit which assesses compliance and reports non-compliance with all State Environmental Laws and Regulations, including storage and management of deicing materials. This is a self-reporting audit with the goal of correcting any violations, improving performance and establishing statewide consistency.
      2. Environmental Handbook for Transportation Operations - Published in 1995, this Handbook contains guidance for Operations staff regarding environmental compliance and recommended best management practices for many day-to-day issues including storage and handling of deicing materials. This Handbook is updated bi-annually and is available in electronic format. The goal of this manual is to improve NYSDOT performance and consistency by boiling-down the often complex and voluminous regulatory language to a more brief, understandable and applicable format.
      3. Maintenance Environmental Coordinators - In 2001, NYSDOT established the new position of Maintenance Environmental Coordinator (MEC) in each Regional Maintenance Office. These Senior-level staff work directly with the Regional maintenance staff with the goal of improving overall environmental performance through providing training, promoting stewardship, providing assistance with regulatory compliance and developing new and innovative approaches to balancing operations needs with sustainability.
    • Oregon- ODOT Annual Performance Progress Report for FY 2005-06. This report covers the 28 Key Performance Measures (KPM) used during the year which directly support department goals and the report highlights these connections. Measures that affect Oregonians' livability and the state's environment are highlighted, and discussion includes performance-tracking targets for KPM 17 -- the improvement of fish passage.
    • Vermont- Environmental Operations Manual. This manual serves as a guide to the environmental procedures typically required on Vermont Agency of Transportation projects. The manual also serves as a sourcebook that identifies the various environmental laws and regulations that come into play on transportation projects, describes the framework for environmental resource assessment, and explains how resource assessment is integrated into the overall project development process.
    • Washington- Gray Notebook. WSDOT's Measures, Markers and Mileposts, also called the Gray Notebook because of its gray cover, provides quarterly, in-depth reports on agency and transportation system performance and is an important internal management and integration tool. The electronic subject index provides access to current and archived performance information, and links to every performance topic published to date, including Environmental Stewardship. WSDOT's Environmental Procedures Manual, and the Performance Measure Library of best state performance measurement practices, are also helpful online resources.

Additional resources on environmental performance measures include: Winter Operations Performance Measures

Non-environmental performance measures utilized in winter maintenance operations generally pertain to - mobility, reliability, accessibility, and safety (SHRP, 2009). The most commonly used performance measures for winter operations are various measures of road surface condition (e.g., time to bare pavement, bare wheel path, clear condition of the road, or roadway cleared to shoulder-to-shoulder and friction) most likely because this information is easy to collect and use (Maze et al., 2007; CTC & Assoc. 2009; Qiu and Nixon, 2009). The ability to maintain vehicle speed is a performance measure recommended by Qiu and Nixon (2009) because it accounts for both safety and mobility. Other identified performance measures include - time to return to a reasonable near-normal condition, length of road closures, crash reduction, and customer satisfaction (Maze et al., 2007).

Adams et al. (2003) described principles to guide the selection of performance measures including;

  • Meaningful and appropriate to the needs and concerns of decision makers.
  • Reflect specific goals or guidelines
  • Reflect current issues
  • Allow for comparison of products, equipment, etc.
  • Allow for prediction of future trends in planning and budgets.
  • Allow for comparison of performance across states.

The pavement ice condition index (PSIC) is a visual method used to characterize roadway conditions (Blackburn, 2004). PSIC can be used to assess during-storm and post-storm performance. PSIC is easy to use and low cost, but is deficient in that it is a subjective because it is based on the perspective of who is collecting the information.

Friction measurements have been identified as an indicator of road condition that can be used to measure performance (Maze et al., 2007; Fay et al., 2010). Colorado DOT is currently testing the use of non-contact friction measuring devices to assess winter maintenance product performance. Since installation on traffic poles CDOT personnel have noticed an initial performance difference between winter maintenance products, as well as a difference in bare pavement regain time. Bare pavement regain time is the performance measure used by Colorado DOT to assess product performance and is an assessment of longer term product performance. This suggests that the non-contact friction measurements provide a good estimate of both short and long term product performance. Based on these results, CDOT has been able to reduce winter maintenance product application rates for one of the products and still satisfy the bare pavement regain time performance measure that is targeted for CDOT's current funding level. Similar research is being conducted at four other sites in the US and Canada (personal communication, P. Anderle, March 22, 2012 and J. Trujillo, December 13, 2012).

The Idaho DOT utilizes RWIS data elements (pavement surface and air temperatures, dew temperature, presence of ice, snow or water layer on pavement, relative humidity, wind speed including maximum winter speed), and grip level using a non-contact pavement friction measuring device, and storm severity to determine the Performance Measure Index of a storm and the associated treatment (Cole, 2012). Idaho DOT began statewide implementation of the Performance Measure Index in the winter of 2011-2012, with the intention of learning, not grading the achieved level of service. The Performance Measure Index was identified as a useful tool to improve performance, allow for identification of benchmarks, and identify areas for improvement.

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Continue to Section 8.7»
Table of Contents
Chapter 8
Winter Operations and Salt, Sand, and Chemical Management
8.0 Introduction
8.1 Selecting Snow and Ice Control Materials to Mitigate Environmental Impacts
8.2 Reducing Sand Usage and Managing Traction Materials
8.3 Strategic Planning for Reduced Salt Usage
8.4 Stewardship Practices for Reducing Salt, Sand and Chemical Usage
8.5 Precision Application to Manage and Reduce Chemical Applications
8.6 Monitoring and Recordkeeping
8.7 Winter Operations Facilities Management
8.8 Training for Salt Management and Winter Maintenance Operations
  Appendix A - Acronyms
Lists: Examples | Tables | Figures
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