Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2019, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (1): 1-12.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2019.00001

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Intersection-pavement de-icing: comprehensive review and the state of the practice

Yang ZhaoHui Joey()   

  1. 1. University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
  • Received:2018-12-07 Accepted:2018-12-29 Online:2019-02-01 Published:2019-03-22
  • Contact: Yang ZhaoHui Joey
  • About author:Dr. ZhaoHui Joey Yang, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99608, USA.


Winter maintenance operations are crucial for pedestrian and motorist safety and public mobility on urban streets and highways in cold regions, especially during winter storms. This study provides a comprehensive literature review of existing deicing technologies, with emphasis on electrical resistance-heating deicing technologies for possible applications in areas with concentrated traffic, such as street intersections and crosswalks. A thorough review of existing and emerging deicing technology for snow/ice melting was conducted. The performance of various deicing methods was evaluated and the installation and operation cost of the electrical resistance-heating methods compared. Finally, current state of the practice of intersection/crosswalk winter maintenance was surveyed among state departments of transportation in North America. The intersection/crosswalk winter maintenance procedure adopted by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities was described, and the annual winter maintenance and operation cost per intersection was estimated. It was found that the annual energy cost of an electrical resistance-heating method such as the carbon-fiber-tape deicing technology is about the same as the average annual maintenance and operation cost of current practice. In addition, an automatic electrical resistance-heating deicing system will bring benefits such as minimized delay time and improved safety for pedestrian and vehicular traffic in an urban application.

Key words: deicing technology, intersection, crosswalk, electric resistance heating, state of the practice

Table 1

Evaluation of advantages between mechanical/chemical and various heated-pavement snowmelt methods in PCC"

Snowmelt technology Initial cost Operation and maintenance cost Construct-ability Durability Safety Potential for innovation

Environmentally friendly/

green energy

Mechanical/chemical N/A
Hydronic heated pavement
Electrical resistance- heated pavement TBD

Table 2

Evaluation of different ERH deicing methods"

Electrical heating deicing method Constructability Durability Safety Field performance Application examples
Heating-wire method Easy Fair Safe Poor AC pavement in Newark, New Jersey; abandoned due to cable pulled out of pavement by traffic load
EC-PCC/AC pavement method Change of pavement-mix formula Good Safe Good Bridge deck (Roc Spur Bridge), Snowfree? technology at O'Hare Interl. Airport (demolished)
Magnetic heating-device method Easy N/A N/A Poor Unknown

CFT heating-panel


Easy Good Safe Good Multiple applications in PCC pathways; not yet applied in AC pavement

Table 3

Cost comparison of different ERH deicing systems"

Deicing system and year built Installation cost ($/m2) Annual operating cost ($/m2) Power density (W/m2)

Unit-energy cost at ?6 to ?3 °C air temp.

($/(m2 ? cm))

Electric heating cable, 1961 (Henderson, 1963) b 23.6 b 2.8 b 323?430 b 0.368
Hot water, 1993 (Cress, 1995) a 161 a 250/storm a 473 N/A

EC-concrete mixed with steel shavings and steel fiber,

1998 (Yehia and Tuan, 1999)

a 48 a 0.8/storm a 590 b 0.075

EC-concrete mixed with steel fibers and carbon particles,

2003?2007 (Tuan and Yehia, 2004; Tuan, 2008)

b 205 b 0.74/storm a 350 b 0.033
Carbon-fiber heating wire, 2008 (Zhao et al., 2010) N/A b 0.38?2.8/storm a 500?800 b 0.025

Carbon-fiber tape heating panel, 2010?2011

(Yang et al., 2012)

145 0.27/storm about 300 0.030

Table 4

Per-storm cost for personnel, equipment, and amount of materials for winter maintenance of a two-lane intersection with crosswalk"

Winter events

Avg. wage with FHWA overhead rate1




(sand w/ brine = $14.14/ton;

brine = $0.045/L)

Plow truck ($91.63/h)



Brine tank (16.07/h)
Fresh snow

One employee


$15.27 N/A N/A Sand/brine mixture, one yard/intersection, $20 ($14.14/ton × 1.45 ton/yard × 1 yard/intersection = $20) $46.77
Ice pack

Two employees


$15.27 $19.54 N/A N/A $57.81

Pre-storm or

freeze/thaw event

One employee


$15.27 N/A $2.68 151 L/lane-km, $1.15/intersection $30.60
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