Blowing and drifting snow on Minnesota's roadways is a transportation efficiency and safety concern. Establishing standing corn rows, living and structural snow fences or proper grading during road construction improves driver visibility, road surface conditions, and has the potential to lower costs of road maintenance as well as crashes attributed to blowing and drifting snow. These snow control solutions can also provide environmental benefits including carbon sequestration and avoidance of carbon emissions of snow removal operations. In recent years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has paid farmers to establish snow control practices to protect identified snow problem roadways. Using public funds to pay landowners to establish snow control practices, which benefit the public and reduce MnDOT winter operating costs, needs to be justified.
In 2012, our snow fence research team created a Microsoft Excel cost benefit payment calculator to estimate payments for farmers that included consideration of safety and snow removal cost savings to the public and the transportation agency. We worked closely with MnDOT engineers and plow operators to estimate the safety and snow removal costs. Our 2014 project translated the Microsoft Excel tool to a web based tool that can be used on laptops, smart phones and tablets. Beta testing with transportation officials was used to improve the web tool. Outreach programs are being conducted to inform transportation agencies of this tool and the cost benefit analysis it offers. Initial outcomes include transportation authority cost savings and increased public safety. The tool web site: www.snowcontroltools.umn.edu
Wyatt, Gary; Zamora, Diomy; Current, Dean; Smith, D; Gullickson, D; Mathison, A.
Web-Based Preventative Blowing and Drifting Snow Control Decision Tool.
University of Minnesota Extension.
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