South Dakota Blowing Snow Mitigation Strategies, Prioritization, and Implementation

Blowing and drifting of snow is a major concern for safety, transportation efficiency, and road maintenance in regions subject to intense snowfall and winds during the winter season. Snow blowing (or drifting) across and accumulating on the roadway leads to reduced driver visibility and induces ice formation on roads posing serious safety concerns and leading to an increased number of incidents. The impacts of snowfall and snowdrifts on highway traffic are mitigated with a variety of methods and activities implemented before, during, and after snowstorms. One mitigation strategy is the deployment of snow fences. Snow fences can be temporarily or permanently installed along the roadway. They are deployed in areas prone to snow drifting as either structural barriers (constructed using lightweight construction materials) or as living fences (composed of a combination of planted shrubs, trees, and tall grasses) that act as a windbreak to effectively trap the snow before it blows onto the road which reduces winter maintenance costs and crashes. Another mitigation strategy is grading improvements. Grading improvements can provide additional snow storage in a cut section and allow snow to blow clear of the roadway in a fill section. Due to the wide variety of options and conditions, a guidance document would be beneficial to determine appropriate locations, strategies, and benefits. The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) currently has locations identified and plans in place for locations on the interstate system. Existing snow fence locations on the state system are inventoried in Geographic Information System (GIS). This proposed research is intended for non-interstate rural highways on the state system.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $125000
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      South Dakota Department of Transportation

      700 East Broadway Avenue
      Pierre, SD  United States  57501
    • Managing Organizations:

      South Dakota Department of Transportation

      700 East Broadway Avenue
      Pierre, SD  United States  57501
    • Project Managers:

      Vandel, Andy

    • Performing Organizations:

      Western Transportation Institute

      Montana State University, Bozeman
      P.O. Box 174250
      Bozeman, MT  United States  59717-4250
    • Principal Investigators:

      Villwock-Witte, Natalie

    • Start Date: 20240304
    • Expected Completion Date: 20250930
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01917646
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: South Dakota Department of Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: SD2023-06
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: May 6 2024 4:23PM