A review of environmental impacts of winter road maintenance


The need for winter road maintenance (WRM) is changing in cold regions due to climate change. How the different modes of WRM will contribute to future overall emissions from infrastructure is therefore of great interest to road owners with a view to a more sustainable, low-carbon future. In the quest for near-zero-emissions transport, all aspects of the transport sector need to be accounted for in the search for possible mitigation of emissions. This study used 35 peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2018 to map available information on the environmental impacts and effect of WRM and reveal any research gaps. The articles were categorized according to their research theme and focus. They were found to focus mainly on the local effects of WRM with emphasis on effects on water. Of the reviewed works, 27 contain information related to the environmental effects of deicers on a local level while five focused on global impact, which was mainly caused by fuel consumption. Only two articles took a holistic look at the system to identify emission sources and the effectiveness of possible changes in operations methods or material selection. In conclusion, WRM would benefit from further research to understand how it affects the natural environment in regions with a cold climate. Furthermore, a life-cycle approach could reveal ways to mitigate emissions through effectively comparing possible changes in the system without shifting the problem to other aspects of road transport.

Cold Regions Science and Technology
Holger Wallbaum
Holger Wallbaum
Full Professor, Vice-Head of Department and Vice-Dean for Research

Holger is a Full Professor in sustainable building at the Division of Building Technology, research group Sustainable Building, and in the Area of advance Building Futures. Holger works within sustainable building on concepts, tools and strategies to enhance the sustainability performance of construction materials, building products, buildings as well as entire cities.