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Friday, November 16, 2012

ADOT ready for winter season; snow removal a priority

Winter isn’t officially here yet, but Arizona has already received some snowy weather this month.

Don’t worry … the season’s early start hasn’t caught ADOT off guard. Our crews are ready and have been preparing for winter operations all year long.

Winter in Arizona
Weather conditions in Arizona can find you driving from the sunny, moderate climate of the low desert into ice and snow in the state’s mountain regions in just a couple of hours. These types of winter storms can really cause havoc with travel plans and businesses. And it means that ADOT—and drivers—need to be prepared.

Public safety is ADOT’s top priority when winter storms hit the state and roads become snowy and icy. ADOT resources are quickly deployed before, during and after storms to keep state highways safe. ADOT’s goal is to limit highway closures and to clear snow and ice as soon as possible.

ADOT has added 16 new snowplows to its fleet this winter season to replace 16 older plows. These new plows, which cost approximately $250,000 per vehicle, are being deployed to different regions around the state.

To date, all of ADOT’s 202 snowplows are serviced and ready, 420 snowplow operators are trained and on alert, and maintenance yards are stocked with deicer materials and equipment.

The cost of winter weather 
ADOT’s yearly budget for snowplowing and winter storm maintenance is between $4 million and $8 million, depending on the severity of the winter season. Last season was particularly heavy as ADOT spent approximately $7.6 million on snow removal efforts. This figure includes labor costs, equipment expenses, fuel and deicer chemicals.

Staying safe 
While ADOT is prepared to keep the roads clear and open, the agency is encouraging motorists to be prepared as well when driving in snowy and icy conditions. Winter can be a dangerous time with wind, ice, snow and freezing temperatures causing unsafe conditions. With that in mind, ADOT recommends the following winter driving tips:
  • Slow down, be patient and drive safely. Plan for extra travel time. 
  • Be alert: ice forms on bridges first and is hard to see. 
  • When driving behind a snowplow, stay back at least a few car lengths until it’s safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road. If you think you’re traveling too close to a plow, you probably are. Be safe and stay back! 
  • Maintain at least a three-quarter full tank of gas. 
  • Notify someone of your travel route, destination and projected arrival time. 
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, extra clothes, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand for traction, a fully charged cell phone, and hazard warning lights or reflectors. 
  • Brake slowly to avoid any panic braking or jerking the steering wheel. 
  • Increase the distance between you and the traffic ahead. 
  • Carry plenty of food and water and all necessary medications. 
  • Carry tire chains, snow cables or snow tires. 
  • Wear warm clothes to protect you during extended time periods in cold temperatures. 

Additional information on how ADOT prepares for winter weather can be found in our blog archives and at ADOT’s “Know Snow” website. The site also contains downloadable snow maps of snowplowing schedules and routes.

Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 511 or log on to ADOT’s Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state. The website features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.
Posted by Angela DeWelles   |  Labels:  
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