Three-Dimensional Roughness Elements for Snow Retention: FHWA-WY-06/04F
The objective of this study was to develop a practical and economical method of retaining snow along roadsides in order to reduce icing caused by blowing snow.
Although multiple rows of conventional 4-foot snow fence could serve this purpose, it was hypothesized that a three-dimensional array of elements might be more effective and aesthetic, and might prove to be more economical.
An idea leading to the research reported here was for tetrapodal elements constructed from 2 inch by 4 inch lumber, and this was later expanded to include the development and testing of tubular, wire frame-supported plastic netting. The study consisted of developing, testing, and comparing these alternative roughness elements.
Conclusions from this study are as follows:
- The 3-foot-tall tetrapod developed in this study is an efficient design that minimizes costs for materials and labor. Tetrapods are the most costly element to fabricate and install and the physical structure of tetrapods presents a potential collision hazard to errant vehicles.
- Tank baffles are effective in collecting snow, but their cost is approximately twice that of tetrapods.
- Snow snakes are significantly less costly than tetrapod arrays, and their cost per unit volume of snow storage is comparable to that of conventional snow fence of equal height installed on wood or steel posts. The primary advantages of snow snakes over conventional snow fences are their unobtrusive appearance, and the fact that they present no hazard to errant vehicles. They also promote the reestablishment of vegetation by increasing soil moisture, providing shade, and by providing protection from wind and grazing animals. Snow snake drifts in medians would also help to restrain vehicles that would otherwise cross over into oncoming traffic.