Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Crews Prepared with Equipment, Supplies and Winter Weather Plan
The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) announced late Tuesday, it is prepared ahead of this week’s forecast for winter weather.
Crews have prepared equipment, supplies and plans to keep motorists safe and respond to roadway conditions, the department stated in a press release.
"They're most definitely ready," said Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Authority (MDOT SHA) spokesperson Sherry Christian. "Our crews are ready. They've already been out around the state pretreating roads ahead of the storm."
MDOT SHA has formidable assets available to work to keep Maryland roads as clear as possible. That includes:
a $71 million budget;
387,000 tons of rock salt at 93 facilities across Maryland;
1.7 million gallons of salt brine at 77 sites; and
2,700 equipment fleet and personnel force (including contractors).
“We have the tools and the people needed to respond to any weather event, large or small,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith.
"We will provide our crews and customers with the information they need to make smart decisions during winter weather, including live camera feeds, plow locations and weather conditions.”
But as usual with Mother Nature, you don't really know what you're getting until it arrives.
"We follow the forecast just like you guys are," Christian said. "It really hard (to predict)."
Christian said a few degrees in temperature or wind speed change here or there can impact how passable individual roads are
The many road crews of both men and women, are trained and certified to clear snow on Maryland's highways and byways. It can mean long, challenging hours during stormy weather, but it is something they prepare for, she said.
"Our crews are always ready," she said. "This is what they do. It's all hours and it's extended hours, but this is what they signed up for. I think they actually look forward to using their skills and keeping roads safe."
The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for a winter storm warning from 7 a.m. Wednesday, December 16 until 4 a.m Thursday, December 17, with heavy snow expected in portions of northern and western Maryland.
MDOT SHA said it is applying salt brine to areas where the temperatures are below freezing and the pavement is dry in advance of the event.
The forecast projects the bulk of precipitation mostly north of the I-95 corridor to begin Wednesday afternoon, potentially impacting the evening rush.
This storm could involve snow falling at 1 to 2 inches per hour, meaning precipitation would occur at a faster rate than plows are able to clear the roadways.
MDOT SHA also stated it uses state-of-the-art technology to monitor roadway conditions and deploy resources.
The agency’s Statewide Transportation Operations Response Map (STORM) is a web-based plow tracker application that keeps customers updated about the progress of our snow removal operations.
Enhancements added last year integrate live traffic camera feeds and weather information and delivers an overall improved customer interface.
MDOT SHA crews work hard to keep roads passable during snowstorms to maintain access to critical services, the department said in a press release, but crews need help from drivers to keep everyone safe. Here are things motorists can do to keep their vehicles road ready:
Keep enough fuel in your vehicle’s tank so fuel lines don’t freeze.
Inspect your vehicle’s coolant hoses for any excessive wear or leaks.
Make sure there is adequate tire tread on your tires for traction in snow.
Make sure all vehicle lights are operational so you can see and be seen.
Be alert for pedestrians who may walk in the roadway when sidewalks are blocked.
Know Before You Go, Especially on Ice and Snow
For current, real-time travel information, visit md511.org. MDOT SHA is generally responsible for numbered routes and interstates, but you can use the “Know Your Roads” tool on our website for specific questions, at roads.maryland.gov. Click here for more details on the MDOT SHA Winter 2020/2021 fact sheet, and follow MDOT SHA on social media for regular updates via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
--from interview as well as MDOT SHA press release; Photo Credits: MDOT SHA