Coalition Overview

Closeup photo of snowy road

Interstate 80 is a major economic freight and traveler corridor that stretches from the east coast to the west coast of the United States.  During winter, poor travel reliability and increased delay seriously affect commerce and goods movement along this major route. This is especially true in the west, where numerous mountain passes must be navigated.  During severe winter weather (including snow and ice), portions of I-80 are often closed due to safety hazards of freight and other vehicles trying to navigate extreme elevations.

Integration and continuity of winter maintenance operations among State Departments of Transportation (DOT) is needed to provide consistent traveler information and similar levels of service to achieve a higher degree of boundary transparency and improved mobility. The states of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska have initiated an important strategic planning effort to reach consensus on how best to link operational processes and data to maximize winter mobility in their I-80 corridor.

The purpose of the I-80 Winter Operations Coalition is to improve the quality of information provided to travelers, and to improve the quality of real-time information shared among agencies for decision making.  This builds on Nevada DOT’s current Statewide Integrated Transportation Reliability Program (ITRP), in that many of the northern Nevada/I-80 strategies are directly related to winter operations and improving overall corridor operations and management.

This planning process is broken down into two distinct focus areas:

Photo of maintenance vehicle on I-80
  • Focus Area 1: Provide travelers with the information they need to make informed route and travel decisions. In order to make good decisions, the road users must have accurate, consistent and near-real-time information. Road descriptors, (i.e. slippery in spots, icy in spots, blowing snow, chains required), road closures, weather conditions, and reliability information must be available and accurate across the entire Western Region. This is accomplished by linking Traffic Management Centers (TMCs) that share a common goal of focusing on all weather mobility, and developing a coordinated strategy for how information is shared with agencies and road users.
  • Focus Area 2: Coordinated maintenance and operations to promote consistency across state lines. This process begins with sharing new technologies and advances in meteorological and pavement forecasting to maximize resources and improve consistency. It also includes developing pilot test programs for Road Weather Information Systems, Maintenance Decision Support Systems, Mobile Data Collection and Automatic Vehicle Location. Other items include proactive and coordinated snow and ice control training among the DOTs in the four states. This will allow a much larger pool of maintenance and operations professionals to make better informed decisions on which new technologies would best benefit their state.