SICOP Talks Winter Ops

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

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

Episode 39: Covid impacts on maintenance operations

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The Covid pandemic has dramatically altered the way we do business and maintenance has not been immune. In this episode we’re having a discussion with the leadership of the AASHTO Maintenance Committee – Maintenance Operations Technical Working Group on the impacts they’re seeing in maintenance operations in response to Covid safety guidelines while still maintaining mobility across the roadway network.

In this episode listen in as Brad Darr, State Maintenance Engineer for the North Dakota DOT, Chair of the Maintenance Operations Technical Work Group and SICOP steering committee member along with his Vice Chairs on the Maintenance Operations TWG, Rebecca Allmeroth, Chief Safety and Operations Officer at the Missouri DOT and Emily McGraw, State Maintenance Engineer at the North Carolina DOT tell how their three state DOTs responded.

Episode 38: Winter service by contract

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In this episode of SICOP Talks Winter Ops were visiting with Frank Rizzardo, President of Emcon Services, an employee owned construction company, with maintenance contracts across Canada that includes providing winter service in some of the harshest environments in North America. Frank shares his story of how British Columbia transitioned from an agency that self-performed maintenance into one that contracts for those services and his take on winter service from a contractors perspective.

You can learn more about Emcon Services and their winter maintenance operations by visiting their website at Emcon Services

Episode 37: RWIS – How many and where?

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Road Weather Information Systems or RWIS provides invaluable data about road weather and the real-time condition of the roadway during winter events. When RWIS began to be deployed back in the 1990’s the big question was, and still is 30 years later, how many sensor stations should be installed and where should they go. The Aurora consortium has been looking at this question and recently completed a project on Optimum RWIS Density, Phase 2.

Dr Tae Kwon from the University of Alberta describes this work and the results he obtained. For more information on this project visit the Aurora website at

or you can contact Dr. Tae Kwon by email at

Episode 36: Decisions, Decisions

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Maintenance Decision Support Systems or MDSS are an excellent tool to help maintenance managers evaluate all the important information about a storm including the output from advanced forecasting tools and make better decisions regarding optimal treatment strategies. On this episode Dave Huft of the South Dakota DOT will give us some insight into these systems and how DOTs utilize them in their winter maintenance operations.
For more information about the MDSS Pooled Fund Study you can follow this link to their website: or start up a dialogue with Dave by emailing him at Dave Huft

Episode 35: Maintenance goes to college

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Colorado DOT and Front Range Community College collaborated in the creation of the first Highway Management Program in the nation.  Developed strictly for current highway maintenance personnel this two-year degree program is an excellent way to advance your career in highway maintenance.  Listen in as the programs director, Susan Baillargeon, explains how it came about and what students can expect to experience as they make their way through the program.

There are a couple of ways to find out more about this program.  You can check out the program overview, follow this link to Front Range Community College or by contacting Program Director Susan Baillargeon


Episode 34: Asleep at the wheel – Fighting driver fatigue

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The most important element of a successful winter maintenance program are the employees.  Having a well trained, efficient, and alert workforce is a key to success.  However, working long hours during a emergency without opportunities to refresh can lead to dire consequences.  For example, when you’ve been awake for 24 hours your performance can be similar to someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.1%

Listen in as Dave Orr, Director of the Cornell LTAP center talks about research into driver fatigue and discusses Tech Tips they’ve developed to help agencies understand driver fatigue and ways to combat it.

For more information you can contact Dave Orr, Director of the Cornell Local Roads Program by email

View the Tech Tips here:
Full Series
Types, Causes, and Effects
Sample Fatigue Management Plan

Listen in as SICOP Talks Winter Ops with Dave Orr: