Anti-icing and Pre-wetting: Improved Methods for Winter Highway Maintenance in North AmericaAuthor/Presenter: O'Keefe, Katie; Shi, Xianming
In recent years, anti-icing and pre-wetting practices have been gradually accepted and adopted by the North American highway agencies. One of the greatest challenges of implementing these practices has been the misunderstanding of the benefits and outcomes of their use. Members of the general public and organized groups such as trucking associations have been critical of these strategies, which may be a result of insufficient information, limited understanding and speculation. Therefore, research is needed to synthesize the information on these strategies in an objective manner. Through a project with the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters association, the Western Transportation Institute synthesized information obtained from a literature review and agency surveys on the advantages and disadvantages of anti-icing and pre-wetting for winter highway maintenance. Concerns discussed include: driver safety, human health, environmental stewardship, corrosion, costs, etc. The research indicates that compared with traditional methods for snow and ice control, anti-icing and pre-wetting lead to decreased applications of chemical products, reduced use of abrasives, decreased maintenance costs, improved roadway friction, and lower accident rates. Anti-icing has been recognized as a pro-active approach to winter driver safety. Pre-wetting has shown to increase the performance of solid chemicals or abrasives and their longevity on the roadway surface, thereby reducing the amount of materials required. The information in this paper will benefit maintenance agencies and transportation officials who seek to fully understand the benefits derived from improved winter maintenance technologies, identify areas for improvement within their own jurisdiction, and learn about related experiences from other agencies.