blank space

South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: Development of Maintenance Decision Support System
Project Researcher: Bob Hart,
Project Manager: Dave Huft
Research Period: -
Status: Approved
Cost: $0.00

Problem Statement:To provide safe transportation to motorists, state transportation agencies in northern states must apply effective highway maintenance treatments appropriate to a wide range of winter and year-round conditions. Maintenance personnel must decide what treatments to apply, and when to apply them, based on their knowledge of current pavement conditions, current and forecast weather conditions, and available maintenance techniques and resources. In large part, the decisions are based upon prior experience of maintenance personnel and supervisors.

Several factors complicate the ability of state agencies to meet motorists expectations for clear and safe roadways:

  • The expectations of the traveling public and commercial carriers are rising because of increasing need to travel during all hours of the day;

  • Agencies are constrained to relatively fixed levels of funding and staffing;

  • Reliable and timely reports of conditions for specific areas can be difficult to obtain;

  • Certain weather conditions, like blowing and drifting snow, are difficult to forecast;

  • The response of pavements to changing weather conditions and maintenance treatments are not well established;

  • Innovative maintenance treatments, such as anti-icing technology, are becoming available, but their effect and effectiveness over the full range of possible conditions are not well understood;

  • Retiring maintenance staff are being replaced by less experienced workers.

  • Agencies could provide more effective maintenance, and provide it more efficiently, with the help of an automated Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) that could:

  • assess current road and weather conditions using observations and reasonable inferences based upon observations;

  • provide time- and location-specific weather forecasts along transportation routes;

  • predict how road conditions would change due to forecast weather and the application of several candidate road maintenance treatments;

  • notify state agencies of approaching conditions and suggest optimal maintenance treatments that can be achieved with resources available to the transportation agencies; and

  • evaluate the reliability of predictions and the effectiveness of applied maintenance treatments for specific road and weather conditions so decision support can be improved.

  • Research is needed to develop these capabilities in a manner that is technically practical and operationally friendly to maintenance forces. This research could build on states successful efforts to provide better road and weather information through #SAFE and other initiatives.


    Research Objectives:
    1  To assess the need, potential benefit, and receptivity in participating state transportation departments for state and regional Maintenance Decision Support Systems.
    2  To define functional and user requirements for an operational Maintenance Decision Support System that can assess current road and weather conditions, forecast weather that will affect transportation routes, predict how road conditions will change in
    3  To build and evaluate an operational Maintenance Decision Support System that will meet the defined functional requirements in the participating state transportation departments.
    4  To improve the ability to forecast road conditions in response to changing weather and applied maintenance treatments.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Meet with the project's technical panel to refine the project scope and work plan.
    2  Critically evaluate the results of the Federal Highway Administration's project to develop a prototype operational Maintenance Decision Support System.
    3  Interview front-line and mid-level maintenance supervisors from each of the participating states to identify and prioritize needs for maintenance support functionality.
    4  Assess the participating states' current and near-term capability to report current roadway conditions and track maintenance activities on specific highway routes.
    5  Assess institutional receptivity to maintenance management decision support in the participating states and recommend actions to overcome potential barriers.
    6  Based on results of previous tasks, propose in a technical memorandum to the project's technical panel the high-level functional and user requirements for an operational Maintenance Decision Support System and propose an architectural framework for t
    7  Upon approval of the panel, construct a basic prototype MDSS incorporating those requirements that can be immediately satisfied.
    8  Prepare, for approval of the project's technical panel, a plan for pilot deployment and evaluation of the basic prototype MDSS in a multi-state test region spanning portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
    9  Upon approval of the technical panel, deploy the basic prototype MDSS in state agency offices in the multi-state test region and evaluate its performance in actual winter conditions during the winter of 2002-2003.
    10  Develop and test new system components that satisfy those requirements requiring fundamental research, incorporating ongoing and emerging technology improvements associated with weather forecasting and maintenance practices.
    11  Based on the results of the evaluation and development of new system components, recommend needed improvements and design modifications and identify operational limitations requiring additional research and development.
    12  Upon approval of the technical panel, make system improvements, deploy an improved prototype MDSS in state agency offices in the multi-state test region, and evaluate its performance in actual winter conditions during the winter of 2003-2004.
    13  Prepare a final report summarizing methodology, findings in performance, conclusions and recommendations.
    14  Make an executive presentation to the project's technical panel and provide electronic copies of the presentation material to participating states.

    Documents Available:

    blank space