A review of environmental impacts of winter road maintenance
Journal article, 2019

The need for winter road maintenance (WRM) is changing in cold regions due to climate change. How the different modes of WRM will contribute to future overall emissions from infrastructure is therefore of great interest to road owners with a view to a more sustainable, low-carbon future. In the quest for near-zero-emissions transport, all aspects of the transport sector need to be accounted for in the search for possible mitigation of emissions. This study used 35 peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2018 to map available information on the environmental impacts and effect of WRM and reveal any research gaps. The articles were categorized according to their research theme and focus. They were found to focus mainly on the local effects of WRM with emphasis on effects on water. Of the reviewed works, 27 contain information related to the environmental effects of deicers on a local level while five focused on global impact, which was mainly caused by fuel consumption. Only two articles took a holistic look at the system to identify emission sources and the effectiveness of possible changes in operations methods or material selection. In conclusion, WRM would benefit from further research to understand how it affects the natural environment in regions with a cold climate. Furthermore, a life-cycle approach could reveal ways to mitigate emissions through effectively comparing possible changes in the system without shifting the problem to other aspects of road transport.



Winter road maintenance

Life cycle assessment

Environmental impact

Road salt


Hrefna Run Vignisdottir

Babak Ebrahimi

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Gaylord Kabongo Booto

Reyn O'Born

Helge Brattebø

Holger Wallbaum

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Rolf André Bohne

Cold Regions Science and Technology

0165-232X (ISSN)

Vol. 158

Infrastructure Performance Viewer

Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA), 2014-03-17 -- 2018-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering

Environmental Sciences

Climate Research

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