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Episode 48: Not all pavements are equal when it comes to winter maintenance

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Not all pavements are equal when it comes to winter maintenance. Different pavements and pavement designs respond differently to winter maintenance strategies. A recent research project looked at the various performance aspects of open graded, ultra thin permeable friction course surfaces that have been used by transportation agencies for many years. While they have lots of advantages, in the wintertime they tend to freeze more rapidly, deicing and anti-icing chemicals drain off more readily, and they tend to retain snow and ice for longer periods of time. In this episode we’re going to look into winter maintenance operations on permeable friction courses with Michelle Akin formerly of Washington State University and Laura Fay from the Western Transportation Institute.

Link to the report “Understanding the chemical and mechanical performance of snow and ice control agents on porous or permeable pavements”

Episode 47: Public Affairs, a key ingredient for successful winter operations

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When it comes to winter operations it’s easy to become focused on the tasks at hand but getting information to the motoring public is critical to helping them make smart decisions about travel during difficult conditions. Thats where public affairs can be your most important partner. In this episode we’re talking with Anne Meyer, MnDOT Public Affairs, about the role they play in getting the winter operations message out to the masses. Anne talks about the relationship with maintenance and tools, tips, and techniques they use to get out the winter maintenance message.

Check out the MnDOT videos on the Minnesota DOT YouTube channel at
or for more information about winter maintenance public affairs at MnDOT you can reach out to Anne Meyer at directly

Episode 46: Ways to improve winter resilience of roads

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What are some key elements to improve winter resilience of roads to severe winter conditions? In 2020 Mark Corbin, Highways Key Route Network Manager at Transport for West Midlands, received a Winston Churchill Fellowship to investigate winter resilience in several countries and bring his findings back to the UK. During his visits to Canada, Finland, and Sweden he interviewed over 50 interviews with winter maintenance professionals zeroing in on key themes to enhance resiliency during wintertime. While his focus was on UK roads his findings are relevant across the sector regardless of your jurisdiction or country.

You can view more information about Mark Corbin and download his Winston Churchill Fellowship Report “Improving Winter Resilience on UK Roads” at this link:

Episode 45: Qualified Product List for Deicing Chemicals

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How do maintenance managers know what’s in deicing chemicals and do they meet the specifications? Many years ago a group of states in the pacific northwest region of the US banded together as the The Pacific Northwest Snowfighters (PNS) and one of their objectives was to collectively test deicing chemicals and share best practices in purchasing materials that are effective deicers and also protective of the environment. The PNS created the Qualified Products List (QPL) to review, test, and approve products used by the Pacific Northwest states.

PNS and Clear Roads have partnered to refresh the QPL and make it relevant for agencies across the nation. In this episode SICOP Talks Winter Ops with Patti Caswell, Maintenance Services Section Manager at the Oregon DOT and chairs the Clear Roads subcommittee that oversees the QPL.

For more information on the QPL you can visit the QPL website at or
contact Patti at

Episode 44: Let’s break the ice

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There are many different alternative methods and equipment available to perform winter maintenance. In this episode Jed Falgren and Jeff Perkins from the Minnesota DOT talks about a new strategy to break up ice pack on the roadways without the use of any chemicals at all. Mechanical ice breakers make short work of ice pack in an environmentally friendly way. This equipment is another tool in the winter maintenance arsenal.

Listen in as SICOP Talks Winer Ops with Jed Falgren and Jeff Perkins with the Minnesota DOT. Want to see an ice breaker in action? Check out the MnDOT Minute showcasing the IceBreaker at or a more detailed video on the IceBreaker at

Contact Jed Falgren at or Jeff Perkins at for more information.

Episode 43: What’s new in FHWA Road Weather Management?

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The Federal Highway Administration Road Weather Management Program plays an important role in winter maintenance across the nation. Contributing significant work in the development of Maintenance Decision Support Systems and the use of Road Weather Information Systems to improve safety for the motorists and efficiencies for the DOT’s the Road Weather Management Program continues to help advance programs the DOT’s rely on during winter operations like Pathfinder, Integrated Mobile Observations, and Automated Driving Systems in inclement weather.

Listen in as we discuss advancements at the FHWA Road Weather Management Program. If you would like to learn more about this technology follow this link to the FHWA Road Weather Management Program:

For more information you can contact Team Leader David Johnson at or Tony Coventry at

Episode 42: What’s up with the weather?

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What is El Nino and how do the Tradewinds influence the weather on the east coast? We’ve all heard the terms atmospheric rivers, the polar vortex, Siberian Express and others, but what are they really.  SICOP Talks Winter Ops sits down with Mike Alger, Chief Meteorologist at KTVN, 2 News in Reno, Nevada to talk about what these weather phenomena really are, what sets them in motion, and what do they mean for the maintenance crews.

Mike is no stranger to winter highway maintenance. Many years ago when the Nevada DOT began creating their Road Weather Information System network and the precursor to 511, Mike provided a conduit and explanations to his viewers on the RWIS information and road weather forecasts to improve winter-time commutes in northern Nevada.   Find out more about Mike at 

Listen in as Mike Alger gives us some insight into these and other weather phenomena maintenance wrestles with every winter.

Episode 41: The latest word on alternate methods for deicing

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There are many different alternative methods and equipment available to perform winter maintenance. In this episode Laura Fay from the Western Transportation Institute at the University of Montana talks about a recently completed project for the Clear Roads Pooled Fund Study dealing with Alternative Methods for Deicing. This project helps maintenance managers dealing with snow and ice obtain a better understanding of the performance and impacts of various alternate methods through case studies.

Listen in as we discuss this project Laura Fay. If you would like to learn more about this project and its final report follow this link to the Clear Roads website for this project or contact Laura Fay at

Webinar: 5th State Showcase – Successful maintenance training in a virtual environment

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We’ll probably all agree that in person training is preferred and the social networking with colleagues is an added benefit. However, in todays environment of social distancing, instructor lead training in a face-to-face setting isn’t happening and the only way to continue developing our workforce in a formal setting is by utilizing virtual content delivery. In this 5th State Showcase webinar Susan Baillargeon of Front Range Community College and Nancy Laffey of Applied Pavement Technology present their views on what it takes to deliver successful content to maintenance workers in a virtual environment. George Walker (Maryland DOT), Don Strange (City of Highland Village, Texas) and Rob McArthur (Douglas County Colorado Public Works) provide their insight into being a successful student on virtual training.

CLICK HERE to view Nancy Laffey’s presentation on the NHI Maintenance Leadership Academy and Nevada LTAP
CLICK HERE to view Susan Baillargeon’s presentation on the Highway Maintenance Manager degree program

Episode 40: Smart salting for sustainability

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Having sustainable winter maintenance practices is one of the Top 10 things for a world class winter maintenance program. Environmental considerations is one of the three pillars of sustainability along with budgets and societal needs. In this episode we’re visiting with Connie Fortin of Fortin Consulting about environmental considerations for winter maintenance. Of all the water on the planet only 2.5% is freshwater. Once salt is introduced its very difficult to remove it. Listen in as SICOP Talks Winter Ops with Connie and hear about smart salting from the environments perspective.

There are several good resources regarding salt (chlorides) and water. Connie mentioned this site from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and follow the link to Salt Applicators for Smart Salting training and success stories.

Fortin Consulting is active in promoting smart salting through Salt Symposiums ( and several training programs ( For more information contact Connie Fortin at