Aurora eNews – Spring 2014

Up Front

Fourth National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange

Beautiful Vancouver, Washington was the site of the latest National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange, held on September 10-11, 2013. One again, the Aurora Program was a co-sponsor of the exchange; along with the Clear Roads pooled fund group, the AASHTO Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program, Federal Highway Administration, and the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters. The Washington State DOT hosted the event, which, like previous peer exchanges, brought together state transportation department personnel from around the country.

Among the state DOT attendees were experts in snow and ice control, road weather, and policy. In addition, private sector providers of services, equipment, and materials were on hand as attendees shared information on road weather and maintenance issues. More specifically, the event addressed all aspects, both current and anticipated future needs, of:

  • winter maintenance
  • road weather information systems (RWIS)
  • maintenance decision support systems (MDSS)
  • value added meteorological services (VAMS)
  • equipment (trucks, spreaders, AVL, etc.)
  • chemicals
  • chemical management
  • chemical blending
  • anti-icing
  • deicing
  • environmental stewardship
  • training
  • personnel

This event was the fourth peer exchange (Ohio in 2007, Wisconsin in 2009, and Montana in 2011), and with the participation by so many interests, research organizations will better understand the gaps in knowledge, technology, and communication and work together to develop strategies to bridge those gaps. To date, over the four exchanges, more than 150 research problem statements have been developed.

The event, like previous exchanges, was widely considered a success, and the planning committee is already working on a fifth peer exchange to be held in 2015!

Upcoming Events

Welcome, California!

Aurora is excited to welcome its newest member. The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) joined Aurora for the first time at the March 2014 board meeting in Boulder. Steve Hancock is California’s representative on the board. Welcome, Steve!

October 2014 Board Meeting in Ithaca, New York

The next Aurora Program on-site board meeting will be held in Ithaca, New York on October 7-9, 2014. In addition to its normal business items, the Aurora board will take advantage of the location by meeting with researchers and private-sector groups from the Finger Lakes region. In Ithaca, Aurora will also be welcoming its newest member, the Colorado DOT, to its first official meeting. For more information on this meeting, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684,

March 2014 Board Meeting in Boulder, Colorado

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado played host to the March 2014 Aurora Program Board meeting. The Aurora board also took advantage of the meeting location by meeting with several NCAR staff on topics related to road weather. The topics included dual polarization radar, liquid water equivalent, hydrology and flood warning, and the connected vehicle initiative.

The board also reviewed a few other items, including:

  • A detailed review of all ongoing research efforts, including several project-specific workshops
  • A review of FY2014 program financials and new management contract
  • Updates on each member agency’s RWIS-related efforts
  • A review of RWIS-related national initiatives, including the FHWA Road Weather Management Program and Clarus Initiative transition to MADIS
  • snow plow crashes
  • salt sensors on plows
  • warrants for RWIS implementation

In addition, the board reviewed administrative and financial matters, all ongoing research efforts in detail, and approved three research projects for the FY2014 program year. They are:

  • 2014-01: Seasonal Weight Restrictions Demonstration, Phase 2 ($200,000)
  • 2014-02: Quantifying Salt Concentration on Pavement, Phase 2 ($115,000)
  • 2014-03: Validate Accuracy of Pavement … Predictions, Phase 2 ($105,000)