Mobility - Winter Response - WisDOT MAPSS Performance Improvement Program

WisDOT MAPSS - Mobility - Winter Response - Delivering transportation choices that result in efficient trips and no unexpected delays.

Winter Response - Delivering transportation choices that result in efficient trips and no unexpected delays.

Maintenance crews work to manage snow, ice and slush on roads, highways and bridges as quickly as possible following a winter storm. WisDOT's target is to achieve clear roads within four to six hours after a winter weather event in order to enhance safety for residents and visitors and to enable safe passage of commercial and emergency vehicles.

To view more detailed information visit: Winter maintenance.

Returning roads to the condition they were in before a winter storm restores the capacity of the system to move traffic. This allows safe travel to work, school and other destinations. Clear roads also permit emergency travel, and they restore travel time reliability, which is important to the movement of freight.

Performance is largely impacted by severity, number, and duration of winter events. Both severe and mild winters can present unique response challenges that feed into this performance measure. The fewer the number of storms, the more potential for each individual incident to create a significant impact on the full season’s data. The timing of storms plays an especially significant role with to 18-hour roads. While this model helps to conserve resources, it comes with an operational challenge most noticeable when storms hit in the six-hour “off” window, creating buildups that slow the initial passes on scheduled maintenance routes. Controllable factors include the timing of the response, availability of resources, and the effectiveness of the response.

A continued focus on education, best management practices and optimizing treatment strategies have all played significant roles in increasing efficiency statewide. The department continues to coordinate with county maintenance partners and other key stakeholders, including the “Winter Tech Talk” conference that occurred in October 2022. Increased use of liquid brine also has been a key factor, helping to spread salt more effectively to treat roads and bridges. This past winter, Wisconsin set a record for brine use on the state highway system with more than 20 million gallons. While brine’s cost-effectiveness may vary with storm conditions, typically brine mixtures can cover twice to nearly three times the surface area using the same amount of salt in a traditional rock salt distribution, and with no negative impacts to public safety.