WYDOT prepares for winter season
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
October 25, 2011
While local residents are hoping for some of Wyoming’s best weather this winter season, Wyoming Department of Transportation officials are preparing for some of its worst. WYDOT’s maintenance crews have spent the last few months gearing up for this year’s winter storm season.
"All summer long, our mechanics have been working on preventative maintenance--from repairing snow blowers to testing the lights and chains on other equipment," said John Eddins, WYDOT District 3 Engineer.
"We want everything to be in working order for the winter," he added.
To operate those snow plows and snow blowers, WYDOT will add to its winter staff. Twelve temporary operators will join WYDOT this winter season to supplement permanent maintenance crews.
In addition to plowing, WYDOT will be utilizing several different chemical mixtures and the traditional sand/salt mix to maintain safe road conditions. WYDOT uses several mixtures on Wyoming roads--both before and after snow storms-- such as salt sand, salt brine, magnesium chloride and ice slicer. These mixtures are currently being stockpiled at WYDOT’s maintenance stations in preparation for winter.
When snowfall can be predicted, some of these chemicals are applied to roads before the storm to help keep snowpack from accumulating, and to assist with the removal of snow after the storm.
"We try and prevent the snowpack from forming, but we can’t always do that. However, it does help with the removal of the snowpack afterward," Eddins said.
Others are used continuously, to help alleviate snowpack and icy conditions.
"We do what is called ‘pre-wetting’. This is where we use a salt sand mixture that has been pre-wet with a chemical, usually magnesium chloride. This helps the sand stick to the road more," Eddins explained.
When a storm persists, a snow removal plan goes into action, creating a prioritized list of routes based on traffic counts. This plan is divided into four levels: High volume, medium volume, low volume and closed. The snow plan is available on the WYDOT website at, http://www.dot.state.wy.us/wydot/travel/winter/snow_plow_priority_plan.
High volume roads are plowed up to 24 hours a day and consist of interstates and principal urban routes, such as Interstate 80.
Medium volume routes are plowed to keep them passable and reasonably safe and are a secondary priority to high volume routes.
Low volume routes are only serviced after high volume and medium volume roads have been cleared, and are only plowed during daylight hours.
Closed refer to seasonally closed roads, where the cost of keeping them clear outweighs their use.
However, exceptions to the plan are made for school bus routes, which are plowed twice a day regardless of their priority.
WYDOT encourages local residents and travelers to access road and travel information through their Web site, http://www.wyoroad.info, for updates and closures.