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Road Weather Information Systems at the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario


The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has implemented a comprehensive network of Road Weather Information System (RWIS) stations to provide highway maintenance staff with the most up to date information to proactively make the most appropriate winter maintenance decisions. The system provides real-time atmospheric and pavement condition data, through NTCIP compliant data transmission telematics, to central servers for interpretation, manipulation and use in forecasting atmospheric and pavement conditions. Data and forecasts are then displayed on a secured web site, in tabular and graphic formats, for easy review and interpretation. Hazardous highway condition warnings are provided to flag the need for prompt attention. Data is automatically archived for future use. Since the system is web-based, it can be linked to other web-based resources like Automated Vehicle Location systems, and the road condition reporting systems currently in place. The capabilities of the system display can be easily packaged to assist maintenance managers in maximizing the effectiveness of winter maintenance operations. The RWIS system is part of a suite of tools that the maintenance manager uses to make the right decisions at the right time on winter road maintenance operations. RWIS is essential in implementing emerging operational innovations such as Direct Liquid Application (liquid anti-icing) and Fixed Automated Spray Technology. For agencies that have contracted maintenance services, it can provide quality assurance data to indicate whether the roads have been serviced. Ontario has been involved in RWIS development since the mid 1990s, and has worked closely with other provinces and Environment Canada to develop standards and implement appropriate forecasting tools appropriate for use in Canada. The MTO network consists of 113 stations comprised of 5 equipment suppliers, all providing data in a legible format for effective provision of forecasting services. The Ontario RWIS model facilitates the sharing of data among road authorities that have stations, to expand the information available for making operational decisions. In addition, MTO has structured a plan to share its station data with municipalities that do not have stations so that all road agencies may be able to improve their winter maintenance operations for the benefit of Ontario drivers.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Buchanan, F
Construction, Maintenance and operations