News

CDOT Set to Battle Ice & Snow

November 5, 2010 - Southeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 2 - COLORADO SPRINGS – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) publicized its winter maintenance plans for southeastern Colorado today.

“Although the number of employees and equipment has stayed the same in recent years, we’ve added other tools to keep the highways safe and open for travel,” said CDOT Executive Director Russ George. “By working 12-hour shifts during snow storms, crews will be out around the clock on weekdays, weekends and holidays, allowing motorists to reach their destination.”

CDOT’s Region Two – which includes all of southeastern Colorado – will have 200 maintenance employees working this winter.  In addition, 137 pieces of equipment will be used, including 38 plows that apply liquid and solid de-icers.

“We’re ready to go when the first big snow storm hits,” says CDOT Maintenance Superintendent Jerry Hoefler,” and we’ll be using all of our available resources, including MDSS, our automatic bridge de-icing systems and opening up the chain station when conditions warrant.”

CDOT uses the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) to help keep the highways open and safe for travel.  The technology combines advanced weather and road condition predictions and rules of practice for anti-icing and de-icing to generate treatment recommendations for specific routes.  The goal of MDSS is to provide more effective use of maintenance resources and increase safety, reliability and mobility on roadways.  It allows crews to input real-time conditions, including road and ambient temperature, type of snow removal products being used and the application rate.  After comparing the information to 15 weather reports, the system then provides suggested treatments based on the information and models.  It can also tell the operator to re-treat the road at a later time, apply different products at different rates or even to continue current procedures.  The suggested treatment then can be followed or the operator can override the system.

MDSS currently is installed on 17 units that cover the Colorado Springs area, on 14 units in the Pueblo area and 10 in the Trinidad area.  “It’s proven to be an excellent system and a valuable tool that helps us get a jump on most storms and treat heavily traveled highway segments,” added Hoefler.

The bridge de-icing system is installed at two locations: on the Interstate 25 overpass at the Nevada/Tejon Interchange in Colorado Springs and on State Highway (SH) 67 at Arequa Gulch, between Cripple Creek and Victor. It automatically sprays liquid de-icers onto the road when sensors detect a decrease in surface temperature, along with changes in moisture type and depth.

A chain station is located along northbound Interstate 25 between the Northgate and Baptist Road interchanges and provides parking for up to 12 semi-trucks.  It provides a safe area for truck drivers to install additional traction devices when the chain law is implemented for travel over Monument Hill.

CDOT uses both liquid and solid de-icers, along with sand and salt products to clear the roads of ice and snow.* Trucks are equipped with infrared sensors to monitor ambient and pavement temperatures throughout a storm, which dictates what type of product is used.

COLORADO SPRINGS MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers El Paso and Teller counties and small segments of Douglas and Park County.
  • Fifty-six workers; 32 plow trucks; 12 (two semi-tankers) used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: All federal and state highways except U.S. 24 east of Garrett Road; SH 67 north of Woodland Park and SH 94
  • During winter of 2009/2010, plowed 373,218 total miles, sprayed 962,716 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 19,672 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent nearly 27,500 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

PUEBLO MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Pueblo, Fremont and Custer counties and small segments of El Paso, Huerfano and Park counties. 
  • Fifty-six workers; 36 to 40 plow trucks; nine used to apply deicers.
  • De-Icers applied: I-25 between the Colorado City area and International Raceway; U.S. 50 between Cañon City and the Baxter area; State Highway 115 between Cañon City and Penrose, including Florence.
  • During winter of 2009/2010, plowed 280,407 total miles, sprayed 426,524 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 8,995 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 20,539 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

LA JUNTA MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Crowley, Otero and Bent counties, and segments of Las Animas, Pueblo and Kiowa counties.
  • Twenty-six workers; 19 plow trucks; four used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: U.S. 50 between Fowler and Hadley Park.
  • During winter of 2009/2010, plowed 86,232 total miles, sprayed 8,630 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 2,269 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 5,144 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

TRINIDAD MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Las Animas and Huerfano counties, and a small segment of Pueblo County.
  • Thirty workers; 18 to 22 plow trucks; eight used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: I-25 between Colorado/New Mexico state line and Mile 59 (north of Walsenburg)
  • During winter of 2009/2010, plowed 245,186 total miles, sprayed 265,931 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 8,942 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 15,115 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

LAMAR MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Prowers, Baca and Kiowa counties, and a small segment of Bent County.
  • Thirty-one workers; 24 plow trucks; five used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: U.S. 50 & U.S.287 through Lamar; U.S. 287 through Springfield; U.S. 287 & State Highway 96 through Eads.
  • During winter of 2009/2010, plowed 133,875 total miles, sprayed 19,612 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 3,555 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 7,521 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

Drivers can access current information on road and weather conditions by viewing the www.cotrip.org Web site or by calling 511.  Up-to-date information also is available by subscribing for e-mail or text messages. Sign up by visiting www.coloradodot.info, clicking the cell-phone icon in the upper right corner and checking geographic areas of interest.  It is free of charge but standard text message rates do apply.  Other winter travel tips include:

  • Logging onto CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving for additional information.
  • Not passing plow trucks on the right.  Also, a plow blade may be extended, making it unsafe.  Drive slowly and let the plow clear the road for you.
  • Always keeping the top half of your gas tank full. It can give you better traction and gives you a bigger margin of error if you get stuck and have to keep the engine running periodically to keep warm.
  • If you are stuck in a serious storm, do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help. Make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow and ice.
  • Carrying blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle's safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables, an ice scraper and lock de-icer.
  • Remembering 4-wheel drive does not mean 4-wheel stop. A 4-wheel drive vehicle will not stop any better in icy conditions, especially if you have inadequate snow tires.
  • Being sure of your route. Don't go exploring in the back-country without some local knowledge, especially during a storm or when one is bearing down anywhere near your location.
  • Being sure you have good tires. The Colorado State Patrol recommends at least 1/8 of an inch tread depth. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks) and do not usually affect passenger vehicles.
  • When visibility is poor or there are whiteout conditions, not driving faster than conditions allow.  High speeds can lead to chain reaction accidents. Also remember you can't see around mountain curves and corners either.
  • Conducting a pre-trip vehicle inspection, leaving extra space between your automobile and others on the road, and never drinking and driving. And, of course, always buckling up!

 

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*Snow Removal Products:

Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 30%. - Effective for use when pavement surface temperature is 16 degrees Fahrenheit or above

Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 27% magnesium chloride - used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees. Products meeting this description have a corn procession byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.

APEX – Magnesium Chloride-based product – used above -4 degrees pavement surface temperature.  Due to its lower freezing point, can substitute for regular and cold-temperature magnesium chloride.

Ice Slicer/Solar Salt/Rapid Thaw/Ice Ban 300 - A solid product that is mainly sodium chloride with small amounts of other materials that help this product to work at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride. It is used to melt ice pack at curves and intersections and other spot locations that make it difficult to de-ice with liquids and for broadcast applications in PM 10 non-attainment areas. Ice Slicer tends to remain in place and persist longer between applications than liquids.

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