In recent years, the U of M and MnDOT have partnered to find ways to keep more rural roads drift-free. Teams have studied a promising option for living snow fences and developed a website and new online tools. Their work was honored with this year’s CTS Research Partnership Award.
In one component of the work, researchers analyzed shrub willows as a more affordable, fast-growing option for living snow fences. They found that shrub willows were effective at trapping snow after just two growing seasons; typical snow fence plants can take 5 to 20 years to establish themselves. The researchers also estimated the cost of a 100-meter, four-row living snow fence at less than $8,000.
In other work, teams collaborated to develop two online tools:
- The Minnesota Drift-Free Roads Design Module allows users to create two types of mitigation strategies: a road design and a snow fence design. Users are able to enter a site-specific blowing snow problem and examine solutions.
- The Cost Benefit Web Tool allows transportation agencies to estimate the return on investment of implementing blowing snow control practices such as living snow fences or standing corn rows on private lands.
Both tools are on the Blowing Snow Control Tools website, which also houses videos and other resources.