Aurora eNews – Spring 2009

Up Front

New Projects for 2009

In September 2008, the Aurora board approved seven new projects for 2009. Many of the projects correspond with research initiatives identified at the 2007 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange. Brief descriptions of the seven new projects follow.

Evaluation and Inter-comparison of the Lufft R2S Microwave Precipitation Sensor
Aurora will evaluate the capabilities of the Lufft R2S precipitation sensor over a full annual cycle and compare the device to other precipitation sensors.

Road Weather Information Outreach/Second Peer Exchange
Aurora will convene a national winter maintenance meeting among several agencies to share research results, hear updates from the snow-belt states, and discuss other winter weather-related issues.

Knowledge Base for RWIS Programs and Environmental Data Loggers
This project will develop a web-enabled knowledge base, like Wikipedia, that allows sharing and retrieval of road weather information, with specific emphasis on data loggers.

Road Weather Education Enhancements and Dissemination
Aurora will develop methods and/or materials for disseminating existing road weather and RWIS educational materials.

Further Development of Pavement Precipitation Accumulation Estimation System
This project will use RWIS data within the Pavement Precipitation Accumulation Estimation System (PPAES) and blend different PPAES products.

Salinity Sensor Improvements and Development
Aurora will survey state transportation agencies to gauge their interest in buying and implementing on-vehicle chemical sensors.

Review of Friction Detection Technologies
Based on the priorities identified during the 2007 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange, this project will review the state of the art in friction detection.

Aurora Plans to Evaluate Proposed National Spring Maintenance Testing Program

With Aurora’s help, the National Spring Maintenance Testing Program will undergo a trial run in the near future. Aurora and its partners plan to test the program to see if it will meet the needs of project investigators.

The concept for the National Spring Maintenance Testing Program was developed by Aurora and several other national organizations in 2008. The goal of the program is to match project investigators with research facilities that can meet their needs. Experts from the testing program will gather and provide information to project investigators regarding

  • past or current similar projects,
  • facilities capable of conducting the research,
  • availability of facility staff,
  • potential project timeline, and
  • expertise of facility staff.

The team also plans to develop a website where agencies can post unpublished information on the maintenance-related research they have completed.

For more information on the National Spring Maintenance Testing Program, contact Tina Greenfield, Iowa DOT, 515-233-7746,

Agency Highlight

Utah DOT

The Traffic Operations Center at the Utah DOT is unique. Along with the traffic engineers and control room operators, the center has an in-house meteorological consulting group that works to make sure any weather-related information that goes out to the public is timely and accurate.

“We’re trying to get a handle on how good the information is that we’re putting out and how it compares with what the weather service is putting out,” says Aurora Program Chair Ralph Patterson, a meteorologist with the Utah DOT.

Patterson says the meteorologists at the Utah DOT work with the National Weather Service to try to make sure both groups are on the same track. “The weather service knows what the storm is going to do, how much snow is going to fall,” explains Patterson. “However, we [the meteorologists at the Utah DOT] focus on how the anticipated weather will impact the roads, and how that will affect commuters and other travelers.”

Aurora is evaluating the costs and benefits of the Utah DOT’s weather operations and RWIS in an ongoing project. During phase I of the project, the team evaluated the savings incurred by the Utah DOT’s winter maintenance program. Phase II, which is currently underway, is looking to identify the benefits gained by the Traffic Operations Center.

For more information about the Utah DOT’s unique Traffic Operations Center, contact Ralph Patterson, 801-887-3735,, or visit the Utah DOT Commuter Link website.

Upcoming Events

Aurora Board Meeting

When: February 24-26, 2009
Where: Alburquerque, New Mexico
For more information, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684

Friends of Aurora Meeting

When: February 24-25, 2009
Where: Alburquerque, New Mexico
For more information, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684

2009 APWA North American Snow Conference

When: April 26-29, 2009
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
For more information, visit