Thoughts of snow and ice may be far from the minds of Kentuckians with warm temperatures hovering over the state, but the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is sounding the battle cry “Winter is Coming” to alert motorists to prepare for the impending wintery conditions. The KYTC stands ready to tackle the elements with sharpened plow blades, stocked salt supplies and trained maintenance crews.
“Snow and ice season is upon us,” said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “Transportation crews are prepared to serve the public over the next few months by responding to winter weather events that may affect travel. We encourage Kentucky motorists to be equally prepared.”
With a strategy reminiscent of combat, nearly 2,000 professional “snowfighters” and support staff have been briefed and trained on best practices for snow and ice removal in an effort to keep motorists moving on Kentucky roadways. A statewide brigade of trucks and plows stands ready, and a strike force of eight plows is positioned for district deployment from the state capital during major winter weather events.
“Our mission for snow and ice removal is to keep traffic moving safely with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes,” said Patty Dunaway, state highway engineer. “Our teams will strive to provide a uniform response statewide to achieve safe driving conditions on roadways while considering environmental and economic factors to steward taxpayer money responsibly.”
During routine snow and ice occurrences, KYTC will operate using snow and ice priority route maps. In 2016, the Cabinet updated snow and ice removal policies for operational efficiency and cost effectiveness. While many aspects of the policy remain the same, treatment turnaround time adjustments were made to allow crews to focus on removing snow and ice from interstates and other priority routes. These adjustments improve statewide mobility, help alleviate potential safety challenges and curb increased costs caused by weather conditions that lead to inoperable equipment or ineffective treatment.
Launched last winter, the Cabinet’s snow and ice information website, snowky.ky.gov, provides details about priority routes, helpful winter weather tips, fact sheets and videos on salt application and snow removal.
For severe winter storm events, the Cabinet has established a snow emergency plan similar to state emergency plans for other major weather events (e.g., floods, hurricanes and earthquakes). The snow emergency plan will allow available resources within each county to be diverted as needed to ensure optimal mobility for the highest priority routes that lead to critical locations, such as medical facilities. Emergency priority route maps for severe snow and ice events are accessible at goky.ky.gov.
Thousands of men and women serve on the frontlines and behind the scenes of the Cabinet’s snow and ice removal efforts. Throughout the season, the KYTC will be highlighting select district snowfighters on Facebook and Twitter and sharing their sage advice on how to stay safe on the roads.
A new strike force of retrofit snow plows housed in Frankfort was available last year for statewide deployment as needed during winter weather emergencies. Reserved for high priority routes to ensure interstates remain open, the strike force is again in place this winter.
Winter-ready, the Cabinet is stocked to capacity with a supply of 481,000 tons of salt, 1 million gallons of salt brine for anti-icing and 1 million gallons of calcium chloride, an additive to salt for deicing.
The Cabinet is equipped with approximately 980 deployable trucks and plows among the 125 snow and ice maintenance locations. Another 431 contracted trucks are available to assist in snow and ice operations.
Maintenance crews have prepared rosters and schedules, calibrated salting equipment, prepped plows, reviewed plowing strategies and completed safety training.
The Cabinet will continue to manage equipment, salt supplies and other snow-fighting materials efficiently. Using reverse auction procurement on new salt contracts for this winter, KYTC has reduced the cost of salt purchases by as much as $20 per ton in districts throughout the state. Districts will continue to look for opportunities to shift resources for sharing with other districts as needed, focusing on the statewide team goal of serving all Kentucky citizens.
KYTC encourages motorists to prepare for winter and remain safe by following these tips:
- Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level.
- Travel only as necessary during major snow events.
- Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment.
- Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder.
- Allow time for a slower commute.
- Winterize vehicles.
- Stock vehicles with blankets, flash light and an emergency supply kit.
- Know before you go, check road conditions before you travel.
- Eliminate distractions (e.g. using phone and eating) while driving.
- Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash.
(provided by the Kentucky Dept. of Transportation)