Network Routing of Snow Plows with Resource Replenishment and Plowing Priorities: Formulation, Algorithm, and Application

Leila Hajibabai, Seyed Mohammad Nourbakhsh, Yanfeng Ouyang, and Fan Peng (2014), Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. In Press.

Routing of snow plow trucks in urban and regional areas encompasses a variety of complex decisions, especially for jurisdictions with heavy snowfall. The main activities involve dispatching a fleet of plow trucks from a central depot and/or satellite facilities to clean and spread salt/chemicals on the snow routes. This work develops an advanced mathematical models to minimize the total operation time/cost for a fleet of snow plow trucks to complete a given set of snow removal tasks with priorities. Customized solution algorithms are developed to effectively solve the full-scale application for the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT).

Snow control operations involve intensive spatial information and geographic information systems (GIS) have been used to provide a suitable platform for creating, maintaining, and analyzing relevant data. The proposed models and algorithms are incorporated into a C++ optimization module and embedded into the development of a state-of-art snow plow routing analysis and design software tool that is embedded in ESRI ArcGIS. The user interface in the GIS environment passes user-specified inputs to the optimization module, and visualizes and reports the output (e.g., snow plow routes and system performance statistics). The system performance statistics provide a scientific basis for decision makers to conduct “what-if” analyses on fleet management and resource allocation, and supports visualization of the results. Other research efforts, such as integrated planning of supply chain networks for biofuel production and agricultural logistics modeling, are informed and influenced by the progress in this project.