Aurora eNews | Spring 2010

Up Front

Report on 2009 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange

On August 25–26, 2009, snow and ice control experts from 30 state departments of transportation, District of Columbia DOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board, CTC and Associates, and Iowa State University attended the 2009 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange in Madison, Wisconsin. Event sponsors included Aurora, Clear Roads, the FHWA, the AASHTO Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program (SICOP), and the Pacific Northwest Snow Fighters.

Like the first exchange in 2007, the purpose of the 2009 event was to provide a venue for winter road maintenance stakeholders to collectively identify and prioritize critically needed research initiatives. The participants assessed the status of 27 research initiatives identified as priorities during the first peer exchange in 2007 and determined where critical gaps exist in winter maintenance communication, knowledge, and technology and how to fill these gaps. New research problem statements were created based on these discussions.

Looking at road with powerlines on the side

Aurora is responsible for tracking and developing/assessing several of the new research initiatives. Aurora considered these new research initiatives and decided to fund four new projects for fiscal year 2010: RWIS Sensor Density Study for Producing an Optimal Sensor/Data Grid, Enhancements to the A/I RWIS CBT, Mobile-Weather Data Collection Guidelines, and Determine RPU and Sensor Failure.

For more information about the peer exchange, or to read the full report, visit

New Projects for 2010

The following five projects were approved for 2010. Four of the five projects are directly related to research initiatives determined at the 2009 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange, as noted with *.

Development of Output and Outcome Models for End-Results Based Spring Road Maintenance Standards Championed by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
The goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of and quantitative models for the complex relationships between three key aspects of winter road maintenance: maintenance operations, road surface conditions, and highway safety and mobility.

*RWIS Sensor Density Study for Producing an Optimal Sensor/Data Grid Championed by the Indiana DOT
Based on the new priorities identified during the 2009 National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange, this project will determine if RWIS towers/grid provides the most accurate data and if there are better ways to construct the RWIS grid.

*Enhancements to the A/I RWIS CBT Championed by the Iowa DOT
This project will modify the existing AI/RWIS training module so that the training can be implemented over the Internet or through an agency’s network and so that training coordinators can easily track student scores.

*Mobile-Weather Data Collection Guidelines Championed by the Nevada DOT
Aurora will collaborate on this project to help determine which sensors to place on fleet vehicles in the AVL/GPS system to best collect pavement weather information. This project also includes determining where to place the sensors and how frequently the sensors should report data.

*Determine RPU and Sensor Failure Championed by the Alaska DOT
Aurora will determine the expected mean time to failure and the lifetime for common sensors and RPUs.

Find information about all of Aurora's current projects at Ongoing Projects.

Friends of Aurora Postcard

Friends of Aurora to Meet April 13–14 in Utah

Aurora will host the 2010 Friends of Aurora event April 13–14, 2010, in Salt Lake City, Utah, in conjunction with its board meeting. Friends of Aurora was established as an outreach initiative with private RWIS concerns to create a dialogue between the public and private road weather communities.

For more information about the Friends of Aurora event, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684,

Recently Completed Research

Evaluation of Vaisala Spectro Pavement Sensor

The objective of this project was to study the accuracy and usefulness of the new Vaisala Spectro sensor performed under real-world highway conditions.

RWIS Leverage Opportunities

This project served as a source for leveraging future RWIS initiatives and is now complete because the funds were used to leverage a new project for 2010.

Low Cost Mobile RWIS

The objective of this project was to build a low-cost mobile RWIS station with open architecture to mix different sensors of different constructors.

Road Weather Information Outreach/Second Peer Exchange

The second National Spring Maintenance Peer Exchange was held August 25–26, 2009, in Madison, Wisconsin. Participants reviewed the research initiatives created during the first peer exchange and developed several new initiatives to research and track.

More information about the peer exchange can be found at

Find information about all of Aurora's current and completed projects at Ongoing Projects and Completed Projects.

Agency Highlight

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

In an era of reduced government spending for ongoing operations and what has been a rough winter for many, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) wants to learn how to provide more reliable, consistent road conditions during winter storms that balance the cost of services with the safety benefits generated.

Single car traveling down road with snowy conditions

MTO and Aurora have partnered on a new project, Development of Output and Outcome Models for End-Results Based Spring Road Maintenance Standards, to learn how to set the right standards and how to monitor the road to make sure the standards are met.

“We’ve learned a lot about the technology for measuring road conditions in winter, and now we’re transitioning from the measurements to how they are analyzed and used operationally,” says Max Perchanok, research coordinator for the Design and Contract Standards Office at MTO.

Some past work has examined the correlation between accidents and winter road conditions. This project will extend the knowledge to draw conclusions and create general guidelines about how standards for winter maintenance are related to accident and travel time benefits.

Aurora will help determine how to monitor conditions during and after storms through two main technologies: road surface friction and a multi-spectral camera. These technologies measure or estimate the surface friction or the amount of snow, ice, or slush on the surface, so that less of the agency’s staff time needs to be devoted to monitoring winter conditions at remote locations.

“How to do more with less is a common problem,” says Perchanok, “and with Aurora we can focus resources to benefit a lot of people.”

For more information about this project, see Ongoing Projects.

Upcoming Events

Aurora Board Web Meeting

When: February 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm (CDT)
For more information, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684

Friends of Aurora

When: April 13–14, 2010
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
For more information, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684,

Aurora Board Meeting

When: April 13–15, 2010
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
For more information, contact Chris Albrecht, 515-294-7684,

2010 APWA North American Snow Conference

When: April 18–21, 2010
Where: Omaha, Nebraska
For more information, visit

Who we are

The Aurora Program is a Federal Highway Administration pooled fund program that brings together transportation agencies, universities, and weather services in the United States, Canada, and Europe with a passion for improving road weather information systems.

Aurora Members and Affiliates

Aurora membership is open to all transportation-related agencies. Members leverage a relatively modest membership fee to conduct large-scale RWIS-related research projects that, on their own, they may not have the resources to conduct. Aurora also has many affiliates from research universities and weather-related agencies. For more information on becoming an Aurora member or affiliate member, and for member contact information, see the participation page.


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