In order to provide safe transportation to motorists, state transportation agencies in northern states must apply effective highway maintenance treatments appropriate to a wide range of winter conditions. Maintenance personnel must decide what treatments to apply, and when to apply them, based on their knowledge of current pavement conditions, current and forecasted weather conditions, as well as available maintenance techniques and resources. In large part, current decisions are based upon prior experience of maintenance personnel and supervisors.

Several factors complicate the ability of state agencies to meet motorists' expectations for clear and safe roadways.

Agencies could provide more effective maintenance, and provide it more efficiently, with the help of an automated Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) that could:

Research is needed to develop these capabilities in a manner that is technically practical and operationally friendly to maintenance forces. This research could build on states' successful efforts to provide better road and weather information through 511 and other initiatives.