Optimal Snow and Ice Control of Parking Lots and Sidewalks
Kamal Hossain, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow and Liping Fu, Ph.D., P.Eng., Professor
iTSS Lab, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, N2L3G1
Snow and ice on pavement surfaces can create slippery conditions, causing slip-n-falls and vehicular accidents. To ensure public safety and mobility, various forms of maintenance operations such plowing and salting are performed to keep pavement surfaces free of snow and ice. The costs of winter maintenance operations are however substantial. For instance, over $1 billion is spent annually on winter maintenance of various transportation facilities in Canada, which includes the use of an average of five million tonnes of salts (Transportation Association of Canada, 2013). The release of large quantities of salts could cause significant environmental impacts, such as damage to the soil, water, vegetation and wildlife (Levelton Consultants, 2007). Salt is also a significant factor contributing to the corrosion of bridges, buildings and vehicles, increasing maintenance costs by billions of dollars. Therefore, a sensible salting strategy is necessary in order to reduce the harmful effects of salt while keeping the various transportation facilities safe.
Developing a sensible salting strategy is a multi-step process; but one of the first steps is the development of snow and ice control guidelines for the selection of the best strategies and methods, materials, and application rates for specific facility and weather conditions. It is generally understood that developing appropriate facility-specific guidelines requires a quantitative understanding of the snow melting performance of the materials being used and the effect of different application methods and rates within the usage environment of these facilities (e.g., roadways vs. parking lots vs. transit platforms). Furthermore, different facilities have different service requirements (e.g., desirable bare pavement regain time) and traffic characteristics (e.g., only vehicular traffic vs pedestrians-vehicle mix, speed differences, etc.). The goal of this three year research project is to address the need of developing guidelines for the snow and ice control of parking lots and sidewalks. This report presents the highlights and key findings from the research that will help maintenance practitioners optimally manage and clear snow and contamination from parking lots and sidewalks.
This report summarizes the results from a three year research project entitled “Snow and Ice Control for Parking Lots and Sidewalks (SICOPS)”. The document highlights the important findings from the project along with a number of recommendations that can help maintenance contractors and government agencies develop a cost-effective winter maintenance program for snow and ice control of parking lots and sidewalks. The report is intentionally brief and concise so that it can be easily followed by winter maintenance personnel in the field. Detailed discussions on the test results and the underlying methodology are reported in various technical papers listed at the end of this report.
Over the project period, the project team conducted an extensive review of relevant literature, a comprehensive survey of facility users, maintenance contractors, and government agencies, and a large scale field experiment on a wide range of strategies, methods and materials. The field tests were conducted at a parking lot and several sidewalks located in the City of Waterloo, Ontario over three winter seasons. Approximately 5000 tests were conducted over nearly 100 winter snow events, covering a large number of treatment combinations in terms of material types, maintenance strategies, and treatment techniques under a wide range of winter weather conditions. The field data were then analyzed systematically using various statistics for generating quantitative information about the effects of various factors on the snow melting performance of different materials, rates and treatment methods. The major outcome of this effort is a decision support tool for the selection of the most appropriate maintenance strategies, materials and application rates to address the specific maintenance needs of any parking lots and sidewalks under any winter events.