Clear Roads Concept Highway Maintenance Vehicle: Phase V

Project status: In progress


Principal investigator: Stephen Andrle, 515-294-8103,
Co-principal investigator: Dennis Kroeger, 515-296-0910,


Clear Roads

Research problem statement

Most snow plows used today leave a small residual amount of material behind the plow. Blades are not able to adjust to the contours or slope of the roadway causing the plow to leave to inch of snow or ice after every pass. The snow and ice left behind is compacted by plow movement and traffic, quickly diluting any deicing materials distributed by the plow and leaving little deicing material available for future snow or ice falling from the sky. The residual material lengthens the time to clear pavement and may increase the amount of materials needed to clear the road.

The speed differential between plows and the traveling public is also a problem. Plows operating below ambient traffic speed cause traffic congestion and pose a safety risk to the plow driver and the traveling public. It may be advantageous for plows to operate at or near the speed of traffic - high-speed plowing. High speed plowing may also have economic benefits since plow units can cover their routes more quickly, returning the road surface to near normal conditions more quickly, and improving safety for travelers.

The weight of current plows causes stress, strain, and vibrations on the frame and front- end of the truck, and direct contact with the road surface creates vibrations and noise in the cab. In some cases the weight of the plow plus the engine may exceed the safe front axle loading. This forces agencies to use smaller engines, sacrificing power for weight. The plow weight could theoretically be reduced by using newly-developed, lightweight materials that have strength comparable to steel.

Addressing all of these issues requires a change in the basic approach to plowing snow.

This research project is a continuation of the Highway Maintenance Concept Vehicle pooled fund study. This current research project will expand some of the issues covered under the original concept vehicle project. This new research project, however, will be conducted under the auspices of the Clear Roads pooled fund research program aimed at rigorous testing of winter maintenance materials, equipment and methods for use by highway maintenance crews. The members of this pooled fund research project are: Wisconsin (Lead State), Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.


This research effort will identify and test snow plow features that address snow-removal objectives:

CTRE will synthesize the literature and experience on approaches to snow removal and recommend concepts to be constructed and tested by the members of the Clear Roads research program.

In summary, this research effort will focus on developing an approach to meeting the snow-removal objectives that can be built and tested by the Clear Roads program members. The research effort will also synthesize the literature on the other objectives, including light weight, high strength alternatives to steel.


For more information about this project, contact Dennis Kroeger at CTRE, 515-296-0910 or

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