UTC Project: Improving Snow and Ice Control in Vermont

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) invests in the future of transportation through its University Transportation Centers (UTCs). The UTC program awards grants across the United States to advance state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals. The University of Vermont is one such UTC.

UTC VT snowSnow and ice have effected many commuters in the past few months across a majority of the U.S., particularly in Vermont. With snow removal so important to the people and economy of Vermont, researchers at the Transportation Research Center at the University of Vermont are passionate about finding and implementing a cost effective system that enables people to travel safely despite the amount of snow on the ground.

Researchers at UVM provided a proposal to the Vermont Agency of Transportation in 2011. Their goal was to use technology to try to determine if there are more efficient ways of removing snow and ice from Vermont’s roads. The findings highlighted the complexity and expense involved in performing “snow and ice control” as it’s known in the industry. Approximately $25 million of the total budget for Vermont’s Agency of Transportation is spent on this task. Better approaches to snow and ice control could lead to safer roads that are cleared faster, more often, and at a lower cost to the taxpayers of Vermont.

The current process had already been refined by engineers with years of experience and knowledge, so the researchers did not identify any major deficiencies. What they decided to use was off-the-shelf technology, TransCAD, which is used by many transportation agencies to do their research. By using the same software as other transportation agencies, they were able to develop models that can later be more easily implemented. The process of snow removal is constantly evolving thanks to projects such as this. Brilliant minds collaborate using state-of-the-art technology to find alternatives that are more efficient and cost effective.

Results from the study can be found here: http://www.uvm.edu/~transctr/research/trc_reports/UVM-TRC-13-005.pdf.For more information on the Transportation Research Center, please visit http://www.uvm.edu/trc

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