Road Weather Management Program
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Best Practices for Road Weather Management Version 2.0


The Use of Abrasives in Winter Maintenance: Final Report of Project TR 434


The use of abrasives in winter maintenance is a well-established practice. The sand or other abrasive is intended to increase friction between vehicles and the (often snow or ice covered) pavement. In many agencies (and in many Iowa Counties, the focus of this study) the use of sand is a standard part of winter maintenance. Yet very little information exists on the value of sanding as a winter maintenance procedure. Some studies suggest that friction gains from sanding are minimal. In addition, there are increasing environmental concerns about sanding. These concerns focus on air quality and stormwater quality issues. This report reviews the state of the practice of abrasive usage in Iowa Counties, and classifies that usage according to its effectiveness. Possible changes in practice (with respect to abrasive usage) are presented and discussed.


Iowa DOT, Iowa Highway Research Board and Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research,

Date: 2001




Winter maintenance

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