Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ready, Set, Snow!

So if your house is anything like ours, you've probably had your heater checked out for the winter, switched out all your summer clothes for the cold-weather clothes, and made sure your cars are ready for the snow. Just as we prepare our homes and vehicles for the cold weather, MoDOT employees are busy getting ready for the snow.

The department does lots of things to make sure we're ready for that first snowfall including stocking buildings with salt and beet juice, and ensuring plows and crews are ready by Nov. 1 for bad weather. New this year, we've added additional training on some of our equipment like the TowPLow.

For anyone out there who doesn't speak DOT language, the TowPLow is a really cool piece of equipment we've been using for a few years. It is a 26-foot plow created in Missouri, and now used in 10 other states and parts of Canada. It is designed to trail behind a standard plowing truck and can clear two traffic lanes at one time, the same as two standard snowplows, which saves a lot of time and resources. The department has 65 of these being used in all areas of the state on multi-lane highways, and it's just one of the tools we're using to make sure we keep roads safe for motorists while making the most of our resources.

Something else new for motorists this year is the updated Traveler Information Map on MoDOT's website that now includes weather radar imagery. Viewers can see what is happening and what is coming their way. New categories to better describe winter road conditions include the following: Closed, Covered, Partly Covered, Mostly Clear and Clear.

When bad weather hits, MoDOT will focus on getting roads drivable by treating the highest-traveled major roads and regionally significant roads first until they are mostly clear. All the remaining less-traveled roads will be plowed to allow for safe travel concentrating on hills, curves and intersections.

MoDOT has more than 3,000 employees and more than 1,600 pieces of equipment ready to fight the winter storms. Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass plows. We want everyone to get home safely. Buckle up, and remember, when driving in ice and snow, take it slow.