Few days ago my city was literally paralysed by snow. The snow here is a very rare event, but was largely expected for the day. While I was stuck in a traffic jam for many and many hours I had time to think about what could have be done better. The first thing I noticed was that the local police was not able to stop the majority of cars (and buses, and trucks) that was circulating without snow tires or chains (causing the accidents that actually caused the block). This led to a paralysis of the traffic that also prevented snowplows to clean the roads.

What existing models can be used to improve the management of this kind of situations?

asked 19 Dec '10, 13:15

baol's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Mike Trick blogged about snow removal last February. Controlling traffic is a necessary first step, but it's a complicated problem. Preventing cars from driving if they lack snow tires or chains is probably neither legal (what about all-weather radials? what about localities that ban chains?) nor practical (what about cars already on the road when the storm hits?).

I recall a two-foot snow storm about 33 years ago that paralyzed the Lansing MI area. Snowed in, I was watching a local news crew doing a remote from downtown Lansing, pleading with people not to drive into town because their cars were getting stuck, the drivers were abandoning them in intersections, and the cars were preventing city and National Guard plows from getting through. In the background of the camera shot, I saw an Guard deuce-and-a-half (2.5 ton truck) appear to get stuck in the middle of an intersection, and the crew abandon it. So any model for plowing will need to be able to account for conditions where plows themselves can't get through.

Plow routing models also need to account for three dimensions. Years later, Long Island NY got hit with a sequence of snow storms. Eventually the snow was piled so high that snow throwers could not reach the tops of the piles, and plows literally had no place to deposit the snow.


answered 19 Dec '10, 15:34

Paul%20Rubin's gravatar image

Paul Rubin ♦♦
accept rate: 19%

Thank you for your answer. The pointer is very interesting. Blocking cars not ready for snow is perfectly legal here (and, from what I saw could have been very useful). If you have any pointer on traffic control it will be appreciated.

(19 Dec '10, 16:28) baol

Sorry, I don't know any references to traffic control. I think the IBM Smarter Planet campaign might have something on traffic control, but I'm not at all sure.

(26 Dec '10, 22:54) Paul Rubin ♦♦
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Asked: 19 Dec '10, 13:15

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Last updated: 19 Dec '10, 15:34

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