Getting ready for winter roads

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 7, 2009

RALEIGH ó Old man winter is knocking at the door, and the N.C. Department of Transportation is prepared to respond to snow, ice or freezing rain that may impact driving conditions on the state’s highways this winter.
“Our guys have prepared snow removal equipment and salt supplies, and reviewed routes we might be plowing,” said Chris Corriher, district engineer for Davidson and Rowan counties. “We are ready if winter weather hits.”
NCDOT budgets $20 million per year for snow and ice removal and pre-treating efforts. Tools used to keep roads clear include:
– Salt brine ń first line of defense against snow and ice.
ó Special salt and water solution.
ó Keeps ice from bonding to pavement during first few hours of storm.
ó Laid 24-48 hours before storm hits.
ó Mixed in county maintenance yards across the state.
ó NCDOT has 300,000 gallons of brine on hand.
– Salt
ó Used to treat roads if ice and snow accumulate after salt brine applied.
ó NCDOT has 111,000 tons of salt in storage statewide.
ó In a typical winter, 50,000 to 60,000 tons used.
– Specialized equipment (statewide numbers)
ó 1,900 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders.
ó 325 front-end loaders and backhoes.
ó 450 motor graders (used to push snow and slush).
ó Pick-up trucks outfitted with snowplows.
ó 3,200 employees prepared to assist with efforts.
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.
There are several ways for citizens to find out about road conditions. Travelers can call 511, the state’s toll-free travel information line, or visit the NCDOT Traveler Information Web site at
NCDOT also offers travel information on Twitter, a free social-networking Web site. Citizens can get brief updates, or “tweets,” for 16 different routes or regions of the state by signing up at