VDOT Prepares for Winter Weather - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VDOT Prepares for Winter Weather

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Virginia Department of Transportation Press Release

RICHMOND – No matter how much snow and ice Virginia gets this winter, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are prepared to clear the roads so motorists can safely get where they need to be.

VDOT starts planning and training for winter weather during the summer. Crews throughout the state ensure their equipment is in top shape and that sufficient supplies and materials are on hand. They also refresh their specific skills so they can work around the clock before, during and after a winter storm to keep roads safe and passable.

“VDOT continues to develop and use more technology throughout the state to improve our winter-weather response for driver safety, but it is the commitment of our employees, especially those on the front lines clearing the roads, that keeps Virginia moving when it snows,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.

VDOT’s statewide snow-removal budget for the 2013-2014 winter season is $157 million. However, the agency will use whatever resources necessary to keep Virginia’s roads clear and safe, no matter the weather.

For the past two years, VDOT has activated a Web-based neighborhood tracking map that monitors the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods when it snows two inches or more. Available athttp://www.vdotplows.org/, VDOT will be testing the tracker concept in other parts of the state this year to determine which regions are best suited for the wireless technology required for the system. A video on how to use the website is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMRaItZLgyo&feature=youtu.be.

The National Weather Service has designated Dec. 1-7, 2013, as Winter Preparedness Week. With this in mind, VDOT and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) advise motorists to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions during the winter.

“Driving in inclement weather requires every driver to pay even closer attention to rapidly changing road conditions for their own safety and that of their fellow drivers and passengers,” said Chief Deputy Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “Pay attention to weather reports, don’t drive distracted and, please, slow down when you see our equipment operators clearing the roads. Those operators are somebody’s loved ones.”

VDOT advises motorists to have a winter driving plan and to get where you need to be ahead of the bad weather. Visit www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/winter for more winter-weather preparedness tips from VDEM.

To avoid accidents during winter storms, VDOT always suggests delaying travel when possible. If you see a slow-moving snowplow or other vehicles treating roads, slow down and give the operators the right of way for their safety and yours.

Before traveling, you can get the latest traffic conditions by calling 511, or go to www.511virginia.org. You also can download Virginia’s free 511 mobile app at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app.

VDOT Budget, Equipment, Materials

For the 2013-2014 winter season, VDOT has a statewide snow-removal budget of $157 million. Last winter, VDOT budgeted $149 million for snow-removal activities and spent $142 million on preparation, anti-icing and snow removal, using the remaining money on needed maintenance.

In comparison, Virginia spent $207.9 million for snow-removal operations during the winter of 2010-2011 and $266.8 million in 2009-2010, two of the state’s harshest winters in recent memory.

For 2013-2014, VDOT has 3,434 pieces of state equipment, approximately 7,528 pieces of hired equipment and 1,362 pieces of interstate contractor equipment available for snow- and ice-control activities this season.

Hired equipment includes both companies and individuals and their equipment that VDOT keeps on call to clear snow. This is an on-going process during the winter; hence the equipment numbers could vary each month.

Materials and supplies in stock this season for snow and ice removal include:

·362,000 tons of salt,

·100,000 tons of sand,

·89,000 tons of treated abrasives and

·566,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride.

VDOT replenishes supplies as they are used through the winter.

Pretreating Roads

When snow or ice is predicted, VDOT crews pretreat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine and liquid calcium chloride.

Salt brine (salt in a water solution) prevents snow and ice from bonding to the pavement when used to pretreat roads before a winter storm. Brine is also better for the environment and less costly since it uses less salt.

Road priorities

VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends.

Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multiday storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.

A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.

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