State transportation crews ready to respond to winter weather
Published 3:04 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018
FRANKFORT — Stocked salt supplies, trained maintenance crews and 1,400 plow trucks are ready to respond during this snow and ice season. Approximately 2,000 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) snowfighters are responsible for maintaining more than 28,000 miles of road during winter weather events.
“November is the launch of snow and ice season for the Cabinet, and our crews are prepared to respond to the effects winter weather can have on our roadways,” said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “While Kentucky weather can be unpredictable, we’ve done our best to prepare and encourage drivers to also take steps now to be ready on the road when conditions change.”
KYTC crews and support staff have been briefed and trained on best practices for snow and ice removal in an effort to keep motorists moving on Kentucky roadways. A statewide brigade of trucks and plows are ready for deployment before, during and after winter weather events, and a strike force of eight plows is positioned for district deployment from Frankfort during major winter weather events. The Cabinet is stocked with a supply of 340,000 tons of salt, 1 million gallons of salt brine for anti-icing and 1 million gallons of calcium chloride, an additive to salt for deicing.
“Our mission for snow and ice removal is to keep traffic moving safely with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes,” said Andy Barber, state highway engineer. “Our statewide teams strive to provide a uniform response to achieve safe driving conditions on Kentucky roadways while considering environmental and economic factors to most efficiently use state dollars.”
During routine snow and ice occurrences, crews operate using snow and ice priority route maps for maximum efficiency of equipment and materials usage. Additionally, KYTC has expanded the use of automatic vehicle location (AVL) units to approximately half of state-owned trucks. This technology captures air and pavement temperatures, speed data, and salt or liquid distribution rates during response activities. This provides helpful information and informs decisions regarding how to efficiently apply materials. The data captured electronically will also reduce the amount of manual recordkeeping of staff hours and materials used during events.
“KYTC is committed to exploring the most effective ways to treat roadways, and AVL units provide us with more data than ever to gauge our performance during and after snow events,” said Barber.
For severe winter storm events, the Cabinet has established a snow emergency plan similar to state emergency plans for other major weather events (e.g., floods, hurricanes and earthquakes). The snow emergency plan will allow available resources within each county to be deployed as needed to ensure optimal mobility for the highest priority routes that lead to critical locations, such as medical facilities. The Cabinet’s snow and ice information website, snowky.ky.gov, provides details about priority routes, helpful winter weather tips, fact sheets and videos on salt application and snow removal.
Partnering with the public to prepare
Safe roadways are a shared responsibility, especially during inclement weather when risks increase. KYTC encourages motorists to prepare for winter and remain safe by following these tips:
• Stock vehicles with ice scrapers, jumper cables, blankets, a flashlight, cell phone charger, non-perishable snacks and first aid kit.
• Winterize vehicles. Have your car battery, tire pressure and brakes checked. Make sure your heater, defroster, headlights and windshield wipers are working properly.
• When snow and/or ice are on roadways, drive slowly no matter what type of vehicle you’re in. It takes more time and distance to stop your vehicle in adverse weather conditions, so break early and slowly.
• Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level.
• Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shaded areas. These are all candidates for developing black ice—a thin coating of clear ice that can form on the pavement surface that may be difficult to see.
• Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stranded at home than on the road.
• Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment.
• Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder.
• Allow more time to travel for routine commutes.
• Know before you go. Download the free Waze app or visit goky.ky.gov to check traffic conditions before you travel.
• Eliminate distractions while driving (e.g. using phone and eating).
• Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash.
Throughout the winter season, KYTC will be highlighting the men and women across the state who serve on the frontlines and behind the scenes of the Cabinet’s snow and ice removal efforts. Follow @KYTC and like their page on Facebook.