N.C. DOT prepares for winter weather

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RALEIGH ó With most of North Carolina expecting winter weather overnight and into Tuesday, the N.C. Department of Transportation is prepared to respond to the snow, sleet and ice that may affect the state’s roads.
NCDOT crews are pre-treating bridges and major routes as necessary with a special salt and water solution called salt brine, which sticks to the roads and keeps ice from bonding to the pavement during the first few hours of a storm. The department has the capacity to store 965,000 gallons of brine statewide for use when needed.
When precipitation starts to accumulate, NCDOT uses salt to treat roads. The department currently has 150,000 tons of salt in storage statewide. In a typical winter, it uses between 50,000 and 60,000 tons of salt.
NCDOT also has a diverse array of equipment to dispense the salt and remove snow and ice from the roads, including more than 2,500 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders, 632 front-end loaders and backhoes, 650 motor graders and five snow blowers. NCDOT also outfits pick-up trucks with snowplows to clear less traveled roads in some areas.
About 6,000 employees are available to operate this equipment and assist with winter weather response efforts. Crews monitor conditions through the night to respond as necessary.
The department prioritizes which roads are cleared first, focusing on strategic corridors such as interstates and other multi-lane primary routes that are essential to the movement of intrastate and regional traffic. NCDOT then works to clear lower-volume primary roads and secondary roads, and then subdivision streets.
Motorists are asked to give snow plows and other NCDOT equipment plenty of room and to avoid unnecessary travel, both for their safety and to allow crews time to clear affected roadways.
If travel is absolutely necessary, motorists should use the following precautions:
Clear windows and mirrors;
Reduce speed and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles;
Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first. Approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge;
If you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car;
Come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection where traffic lights are out. Treat this scenario as a four-way stop; and
If you have a cellular phone, take it with you. You can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by calling *HP (*47) or call the county emergency center by dialing 911.
For real-time information on road conditions, visit www.ncdot.gov and click on “Travel Information” or call 511, the stateís toll-free travel information line.