With winter weather just around the corner, the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) is testing equipment and doing dry runs with its snowplows so drivers will know their routes when the snow comes. The WVDOH is ready for winter weather. Are you?
Snow removal and ice control (SRIC) is a major job for the WVDOH in the winter. Crews begin in October making sure plow attachments and salt spreaders are working and properly adjusted. Drivers are available to hit the roads in 12-hour shifts when snow hits. They’ve already tested their equipment and they already know their routes.
“Even though it’s Nov. 14 and temperatures are in the 60s, we are ready,” said WVDOH District 1 Maintenance Engineer Kathy Rushworth, P.E.
Statewide, the WVDOH has a stockpile of more than 231,000 tons of salt, and more than 1,000 snowplows to cover all 55 counties. A typical snowplow holds 12 tons of salt, enough to treat about 100 lane miles of road. That’s about a 50-mile stretch of two-lane road, or about 25 miles of four-lane. “If we have storms that kind of piggyback on one another, we use a lot of salt to keep the roads clear,” Rushworth said.
If the WVDOH knows a storm is coming and if conditions are cold and dry, they may pre-treat roads ahead of the snow with brine to make it harder for snow to stick and make it easier for plows to scrape snow from the road surface. But if it’s wet and rainy the brine would just wash away.
Rushworth offered a few tips for sharing the road with snowplows:
- If possible, stay off the roads until snowplows have done their job.
- If you do have to go out, don’t follow plows closely or try to pass. They’re concentrating on clearing snow and may not be able to see you.
- Give yourself extra time. It takes longer to get where you’re going when driving in snow and ice.