State prepares for weekend storm; full fleet of plows and sanders is ready

With a moderate statewide winter-weather event forecast for Saturday, the Department of Transportation has readied its fleet of plow trucks, materials and personnel to clear and salt state roadways.

The DOT plow fleet of 632 trucks, stationed at roughly 50 garages around the state, is prepared for deployment as weather conditions evolve. Current forecasts indicate that the entire state fleet will be in use. If needed, the DOT can add 200 private contractors to further complement state plow crews.

Limited pre-treatment of highway bridges and other problematic sections of highways using a salt-brine solution began yesterday and will continue today in preparation for the approaching storm.

The DOT said it will continue monitoring the weather, and will be prepared to deploy its fleet of trucks. However, travel conditions are expected to be poor across much of the state. Motorists should avoid unnecessary travel if possible.

The DOT is responsible for snow-clearing operations on more than 5,000 two-lane miles of roadway. In addition to 632 state plow trucks, the department also has 104 heavy front loaders, 12 industrial snow throwers, salt, fuel and other supplies and support equipment across the state.

Winter driving tips:

  • Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
  • Keep windshield and windows clear. You may want to stop at a safe turnout to use a snowbrush or scraper. Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.
  • Slow down. A highway speed of 65 miles an hour may be safe in dry weather but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
  • Be courteous to the snowplow drivers. Do not attempt to pass plow trucks on the right. If you must pass, do so on the left using the utmost caution. Remember that road conditions will always be safer behind the trucks.
  • Be observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles that have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow moving equipment.
  • When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.