sealPurdue News

March 22, 2002

All roads lead transportation experts to 88th Purdue Road School

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The 88th Purdue Road School, an annual event that draws more than 1,500 state and local government officials, traffic experts and engineers, will drive home issues regarding the state of the state's roads and related concerns.

All conference sessions will take place in Stewart Center Tuesday (3/26) and Wednesday (3/27). The event is free and open to the public.

Among the topics throughout the two-day conference are a presentation on the problems associated with salt truck wash discharge and its reuse; a presentation on the state's transportation heritage by a 67-year attendee of the Road School; and several sessions on issues regarding the acquisition, responsible use and laws surrounding right of ways. The Indiana Department of Transportation's long-range plan also will be discussed. Other topics will focus on management practices, traffic, safety, construction and maintenance issues, violence in the workplace, conflict resolution, and time management.

The Road School will introduce a new feature this year. On Monday (3/25) the latest road equipment and related products will be on display at the Cumberland Place Exposition Center at University Inn, near the West Lafayette campus.

The Road School convenes Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. with an address by Bryan Nicol, Indiana Department of Transportation commissioner. Bob Skinner, executive director of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C., also will address conference attendees. A series of concurrent sessions will follow opening remarks.

James Alleman, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue, will talk at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday about the state's efforts to recycle tons of polluting road salt that accumulates annually on trucks used to spread salt pellets on highways.

"At the end of a storm, all over the state, hundreds of trucks are cleaned at the same time, washing the salt down the drains," Alleman said. "It's a real environmental problem."

As an alternative, officials are catching the wash water and turning it into a brine spray to melt highway snow and ice. Other Midwestern states have done the same in recent years. Special tanker trucks are used to spray the briny water onto highways.

"This is not typical salt water, it's a super heavy brine," Alleman said. "It's got roughly a couple pounds of salt for every gallon of water and is 23 percent salt, compared to ocean water, which is about 3 percent salt."

Using briny water is far more efficient than using salt pellets to melt snow and ice on highways.

"When you put dry salt on a highway with a truck going 55 mph, it's like dropping little pebbles off the back of the truck," Alleman said. "Many of them bounce right off the highway. If you spray a saltwater solution, as soon as it hits the road it sticks. Dry salt takes a while to get moist to break the ice. Salt water works immediately."

The brine spray is being tested at several sites in the state, and Alleman will talk about its use in Fort Wayne and an area west of Indianapolis.

"It is solving an environmental problem in a cost-effective way," he said.

R.H. (Bob) Harrell, who began his career in highway transportation in 1924, also will give a presentation at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on the state's transportation heritage. This is Harrell's 67th Road School. He is currently involved in the development of a transportation history of Indiana, and a small part of his history project will be displayed in Stewart Center.

On Tuesday panels and attendees will address planning utilities in the right of way. Increasingly more utilities and telecommunications companies are requesting location in public right of ways. Options will be discussed to address, manage and control these requests to ensure protection of road surfaces, infrastructure and other improvements already located or planned.

Also on the program:

• At 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday utility representatives will discuss who is responsible for the right of way and how all parties involved can come to an agreement on how to use these areas. The law and the responsibilities of public officials will be reviewed.

• At 3:15 p.m. Tuesday a session on the acquisition of right of way will discuss appraisals, rails-to-trails projects, condemnation proceedings and the most current laws and regulations pertaining to them.

• At 10:15 a.m. Wednesday five open discussions will take place on topics such as preservation issues, successful public information meetings, the wheel tax and the distressed road fund, public construction and competitive bidding, and the Indiana Department of Transportation's long-range plan.

The Road School, held annually at Purdue since 1914, was the first state highway conference in the nation. Last year 1,570 people attended the conference. The program brings together all levels of transportation-related professionals, from the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, D.C., to the smallest municipalities in the state, said Karen Hatke, program coordinator for Purdue's Joint Transportation Research Program.

The Road School is sponsored by Purdue's School of Civil Engineering, which maintains a Road School Web site, and the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Writers: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709;

Grant Flora; (765) 494-2073;


Karen Hatke, (765) 494-9310,

Kumares Sinha, Road School co-chairman, Joint Transportation Research Program director and Olson Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, (765) 494-2211,

James Alleman, (765) 494-7705,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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