Better alternatives to tackle the road dangers of winter snow and ice?

Plexiglas-roofed city highways/roadways can eliminate snow/ice/ rain-associated deaths, deicing salt-induced environmental damage, and hypertension-promoting salinization of water

From Public Works Management & Policy

Since the severe winter of 2009-2010, which brought snow and ice to 49 states of the US there have been great concerns for future safety, commerce, and mobility. Snowstorms and ice storms cause road deaths, property damage, and environmental damage amongst many other problems. Currently the cheapest and best means to keep roads safe in winter is by salting or gritting. 18 million metric tons of rock salt is spread on US highways each year. This method does however have environmental and health implications. This article examines the limitations of the current methods of salting/gritting and ploughing/hauling, and considers the advantages of alternatives such as snow melting machines and a new technique using a ventilator-fitted Plexiglas roof. This study suggests that covered highways will be a very cost-effective long-term arrangement significantly eliminating snow/ice/rain driven accidents, deaths, delays, the need for salting or snow removal, water contamination, and environmental damage caused by salting.

Abstract

Snowstorms/icestormscause(a) roaddeaths/injuries/propertydamage (b)environmental damage from deicing salt/contaminant highway runoff (c) drinking water contamination from deicing salt-runoff, with potential implications for human health (d) lost revenue from road deaths/injuries/damages/salting highways and snow removal (e) productivity/school attendance loss consequent to nonpassable roadways (f) salt-induced damage to roads/automobiles/wildlife/plants/birds/pets and (g) lack of access to emergency medical care. Stretches of intracity highways and important roads/bridges covered with a “⌂” shaped, ventilator-fitted Plexiglas roof will keep roads snow/ice free. Plexiglas roofing would help eliminate the need for salting roads and snow removal. This would help alleviate environmental damage, groundwater contamination, and human health interactions, particularly salt intake and hypertension and other diseases. Roofed-roads would reduce rain-related accidents, help prevent corrosion of roads/bridges due to road-salt/rain/acid rain and water freeze/thaw-related road/bridge damage. Covered local roads and intracity highways would be a boon to commuters in icy/rainy road conditions.

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Article details
Biji T. Kurien (2011). Plexiglas-roofed city highways/roadways can eliminate snow/ice/ rain-associated deaths, deicing salt-induced environmental damage, and hypertension-promoting salinization of water Public Works Management & Policy DOI: 10.1177/1087724X11405064

     
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