Snow and Ice Control in Japan and United States

by L. David Minsk, Natl Research Council, Washington, United States,
Yasuhiko Kajiya, Natl Research Council, Washington, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Pacific Rim TransTech Conference?Volume II: International Ties, Management Systems, Propulsion Technology, Strategic Highway Research Program


Both Japan and the United States experience severe winter conditions that require major resources and large expenditures for maintaining highways. The maritime climate that prevails in Japan results in heavy snowfalls and generally moderate temperatures over portions of Honshu and Hokkaido, though the largest population center affected is Sapporo, population nearly 2 million. In contrast, the population centers of the United States affected by winter conditions receive lesser amounts of snow but much lower, and more prolonged, low temperatures. The use of deicing chemicals is greatly restricted in Japan, both because of their high first cost and because of their intrusion into surface waters used for domestic consumption. The use of abrasives is also very limited in Japan because they degrade air quality and drainage performance. As a consequence, greater reliance is placed on mechanical and thermal removal of snow and ice. Prohibition on use of studded tires in most winter-affected areas of Japan has also led to widespread use of new `studless' tires with improved ice-friction characteristics. The use of ice control chemicals is more common and systematized in the United States and has resulted in high public expectations for clear roads under all conditions. The total cost of snow and ice control is high in both countries. Indirect costs are influenced more by delay costs from lesser use of chemicals in Japan, and more by the consequences of greater use of chemicals in the United States.

Subject Headings: Ice | Chemicals | Snow | Benefit cost ratios | Winter | Highway and road management | Deicing | Japan | Asia | United States

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