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Project Details
STATUS

In-Progress

PROJECT NUMBER

2018-01b

START DATE

01/11/19

END DATE

03/31/21

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Daryl Taavola

AECOM

About the research

This effort will take the results from the RWIS Life Cycle Cost Analysis Project findings and Task 6 final report to create an interactive tool. The purpose is to provide agencies a practical tool for performing life cycle cost analysis for their RWIS. This interactive tool will be developed in the form of Microsoft Excel to provide convenience and easy access to agencies. The interactive tool will include:

  • An instruction sheet that introduces the tool and provides instructions on using the tool.
  • A database that can store average cost information for RWIS components. For the initial tool development, average costs of RWIS and its components will be collected from one selected agency. The Aurora Program through the Institute for Transportation at Iowa State University will collect the data and other agency input variables. Alternatively, data already collected through the RWIS Life Cycle Cost Analysis Project may be used to supplement this database. The costs will include breakdown of capital equipment, installation, maintenance, upgrade and replacement costs.
  • A data input feature. This feature will allow users to search the database to find and select the information and parameters for performing the analysis.
  • A manual data entry feature. This will allow users to input tailored agency data for the analysis.
  • An annualized cost calculation worksheet or worksheets.
  • A benefits/savings estimation worksheet or worksheets.
  • A summary result sheet that presents basic parameters used in the analysis, calculated annualized cost, life cycle cost, net present worth, and expected benefit-cost ratio.

Once the tool is developed and accepted by the project team, a 1-hour webinar will be conducted and recorded with the Aurora Board members to review the tool features and to demonstrate its use.

The final interactive tool will be made available to Aurora program members.

Project Details
STATUS

In-Progress

PROJECT NUMBER

2019-01

START DATE

12/01/19

END DATE

05/31/21

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Tae J. Kwon

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta

About the research

A road weather information system (RWIS) is one of the most advanced and widely used techniques for monitoring road surface conditions (RSC) over the last decade. There are two distinct types of RWIS: stationary and mobile. The stationary RWIS is generally installed in situ within or along a roadway and provides detailed and tailored weather nowcasts and forecasts. The mobile RWIS, on the other hand, is a patrol vehicle that collects RSC data as it travels along the road. The stationary RWIS provides high temporal but limited spatial coverage, while a mobile RWIS provides spatially continuous but temporally discrete measurements. While RWIS stations are the most adopted technology that transportation authorities use to monitor their vast road network, they can only be located at select areas due to budgetary constraints. It is therefore indispensable to fill those large spatial gaps that exist between stationary RWIS stations to promote safer driving conditions and lower winter road maintenance (WRM) activities cost. Furthermore, most stationary and mobile RWIS nowadays are equipped with cameras that provide users with a direct view of the road conditions being covered; however, checking the road conditions via these cameras is still being done manually, which hinders the full utilization of these rich image-based road condition data for optimizing maintenance services and improving the travel of the general public. 

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2020-01

START DATE

02/01/20

END DATE

05/28/21

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Luca Delle Monache

Academic Program Manager, CASPO

Co-Principal Investigator
Thomas Corringham

Postdoctoral Scholar, CASPO

About the research

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are severe winter storms affecting the West Coast of the US. ARs decrease the safety of roadways, bringing heavy rainfall and winds, ice, and snow to the roads and increasing crashes, delays, and travel time.

This project included a literature review; developed a methodology to estimate the impacts of ARs on traffic, crashes, and road closures; applied the methodology to test sites in California, Colorado, and Utah; and estimated the direct costs of these impacts.

The California case study quantified the impacts of ARs on traffic volumes and vehicle miles traveled from 1996 to 2019 on I-5 from San Ysidro to the Oregon border.

The Colorado case study quantified the impacts of ARs on crashes, road closures, and delays during the severe avalanche month of March 2019 on 84 miles of I-70 west of Denver.

The Utah case study quantified the impacts of ARs on crashes, road closures, and delays from 2012 to 2019 at four sites: I-70 at Clear Creek Canyon, I-80 at Parley’s Canyon, US 6 from Spanish Fork to Helper, and US 91 from Brigham City to Wellsville.

ARs were found to have significant impacts on crashes, road closures, delays, and traffic flows.

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2020-03

START DATE

06/01/20

END DATE

03/31/21

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Laura Fay

Research Scientist, Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University

Co-Principal Investigator
Gerry Weiner

Engineering Deputy Director, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

About the research

The purpose of this research is to outline a path forward for the creation of a working group of experts to serve to advance the state-of-the-practice of weather severity indices (WSI).

To accomplish this task, the following will be completed:

  1. Create a white paper on the current state-of-the-practice
  2. Identify issues with WSIs
  3. Identify lessons learned in the process of development

These lessons learned will serve as the basis for identifying individuals and agencies to be invited to participate in the working group. Finally, the effort will result in the coordination and assembly of a volunteer working group to review the state-of-the-practice of WSIs, known issues, and work to identify methods to solve these issues. 

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2018-01

START DATE

01/11/19

END DATE

05/29/20

SPONSORS

AECOM
Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Daryl Taavola

AECOM

About the research

Life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a data-driven tool that provides a detailed account of the total costs of a project over its expected life. LCCA has been proven to create short-term and long-term savings for transportation agencies by helping decision-makers identify the most beneficial and cost-effective projects and alternatives. To help state departments of transportation (DOTs) make more informed decisions with regard to budget planning for the various costs associated with the use of a road weather information system (RWIS), the Aurora Pooled Fund Program initiated the RWIS Life-Cycle Cost Analysis research project. The objectives of this research were to develop guidelines to do the following:

  • Help quantify the costs and benefits associated with RWIS sites
  • Better assess costs arising from RWIS assets over the life cycle
  • Provide a framework for calculating net present worth
  • Assess alternatives and associated cost implications
  • Determine long-term RWIS life-cycle costs and the optimal point to replace RWIS equipment
  • Support decisions on repair versus replacement based on projected expenses
  • Assist in planning and funding the replacement or repair of RWIS infrastructure

This report provides methods and general guidelines to assist public agencies with determining RWIS site life-cycle costs. Public agencies can follow the information provided herein to gather necessary data and perform the analysis to help quantify the costs and benefits associated with RWISs. The methodologies presented in this report provide a framework for calculating life-cycle costs and net present worth, which helps agencies make more informed decisions in repairs and replacement of RWIS sites. It also helps assess and compare alternatives and associated cost implications.

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2016-03

START DATE

10/01/17

END DATE

02/20/20

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))
University of Alberta

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Tae J. Kwon

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta

About the research

Preventing weather-related crashes is a significant part of maintaining the safety and mobility of the travelling public during winter months. A road weather information system (RWIS) is a combination of advanced technologies that collect, process, and disseminate road weather and condition information. This information is used by road maintenance authorities to make operative decisions that improve safety and mobility during inclement weather events. Many North American transportation agencies have invested millions of dollars to deploy RWIS stations to improve the monitoring coverage of winter road surface conditions. However, the significant costs of these systems motivate governments to develop a framework to optimize the spatial design of the RWIS network. The design of these networks often varies by region, and it remains an unresolved question what should be the optimal density and location of an RWIS network to provide adequate monitoring coverage of a given region.

To fill this gap, this project aimed to develop a methodology for optimizing the density and location of an RWIS network for a given region based on its topographic and weather characteristics. A series of geostatistical spatiotemporal semivariogram models were constructed and compared using topographic position index (TPI) and weather severity index (WSI) to measure relative topographic variation and weather severity, respectively. Specifically, this project considered the nature of spatiotemporally varying RWIS measurements by integrating larger case studies and examining two analysis domains: space and time. The study area captured varying environmental characteristics, including regions with flatland or varied terrain and different severities of winter weather. The optimal RWIS density and location for different topographic and weather severity regions were determined using spatiotemporal semivariogram parameters. Output of this study revealed a strong dependency of optimal RWIS density on topographic and weather characteristics of a region. Moreover, this study suggests that RWIS data collected from a specific region can be used to estimate the number of stations required for regions with similar zonal characteristics. The proposed method will provide decision-makers with a tool they need to develop a long-term RWIS implementation plan.

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2015-05

START DATE

01/01/16

END DATE

06/13/19

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers

About the research

Objective

The purpose of this research was to survey road authorities on their data collection and retention practices and to share the findings with Aurora member agencies. A survey was undertaken of road authorities across the United States of America, Canada, and some European organizations regarding their data collection practices for road weather information systems (RWIS), automated vehicle location (AVL) / global positioning systems (GPS), camera images, and traffic data. The results of this survey can be used by Aurora members to assess their data collection practices with respect to other road authorities.

Project Details
STATUS

In-Progress

PROJECT NUMBER

19-697, 2018-02

START DATE

04/15/19

END DATE

06/30/22

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))
Iowa Department of Transportation

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Neal Hawkins

Associate Director, InTrans

Co-Principal Investigator
Zachary Hans

Director, CWIMS

About the research

Objective

This project represents a large scale effort to deploy non-invasive sensors adjacent to existing invasive sensors (at existing RWIS stations) and to report agreement between the different systems. The project includes identifying the non-invasive sensors on the market, purchasing and distributing the compatible devices per state (Aurora), and once the agencies have installed the devices working to establish access to the data for comparison as well as development of a Tableau dashboard to provide members with comparative information.

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2014-01

START DATE

01/01/16

END DATE

12/31/20

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Richard L. Berg

Frost Associates

About the research

The major tasks of Phase II were to implement the models recommended from Phase I at demonstration sites and to calibrate those models, if required. The models included both degree-day threshold and frost-thaw depth prediction models. Output from the models was then compared with validation data provided by the departments of transportation (DOTs) involved in this study. These validation data consisted of subsurface temperature data (which were reduced by the research team to compute frost and thaw depths) and, in some cases, deflection and/or stiffness data from lightweight deflectometer (LWD) and falling weight deflectometer (FWD) tests.

With the results of these implementation and validation efforts, recommendations based on accuracy, simplicity of use, and cost were developed to aid road management agencies in selecting which model or protocol is most appropriate for their intended purposes, personnel, and specific conditions.

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