News

CDOT Set to Battle Winter Driving Conditions Over Next Few Months

December 16, 2011 - ICE & SNOW, TAKE IT SLOW! Southeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 2 - COLORADO SPRINGS – With the upcoming holidays and the beginning of winter next week, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) publicized its adverse weather maintenance plans for southeastern Colorado today.

“While the tools and equipment are essential for winter maintenance, our highways would not be clear of snow and ice without our hard working employees,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. “Every year, our employees work around the clock during inclement weather to help keep our highways safe and clear. To ensure our plow drivers can do their job, we need the help of the traveling public to give our plows room and to drive appropriately for conditions.”

CDOT’s statewide snow and ice maintenance budget is $64.3 million.  Region Two – which includes all of southeastern Colorado – is budgeted at $8.6 million, and includes 237 maintenance employees.  In addition, 243 pieces of equipment are used, including 38 plows that apply liquid and solid de-icers, to maintain 4,779 highway lane miles, including 949 bridges.

“It’s not officially winter yet so our ‘heavy’ season is still ahead but we’ll be ready to battle all that’s coming our way,” said CDOT Maintenance Superintendent Adam Padilla.  “All of our available resources will be put to use to maintain highway safety during snowy and icy conditions, including MDSS, our automatic bridge de-icing systems and opening the chain station for travel over Monument Hill.”

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 21 units that cover the Colorado Springs area, on 13 units in the Pueblo area and 10 in the Trinidad area.  “It’s an excellent system and has proven to be a valuable tool that helps us get a jump on most storms and treat heavily traveled highway segments,” added Padilla.

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 in effect on 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.
  • 58 workers; 45 plow trucks; 15 (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 2010/2011, plowed 211,565 total miles, sprayed 771,895 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 6,195 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 10,262 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. 
  • 53 workers; 35 plow trucks; 9 used to apply deicers, including one tanker.
  • 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 2010/2011, plowed 176,249 total miles, sprayed 547,050 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 2,123 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 8,421 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.
  • 26 workers; 19 plow trucks; 5 used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: U.S. 50 between Fowler and Hadley Park.
  • During winter of 2010/2011, plowed 51,742 total miles, sprayed 103,657 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 1,191 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 2,582 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

TRINIDAD MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Las Animas and Huerfano counties, and a small segment of Pueblo County.
  • 28 workers; 22 plow trucks; 10 used to apply deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: I-25 between Colorado/New Mexico state line and Mile 59 (north of Walsenburg)
  • During winter of 2010/2011, plowed 134,066 total miles, sprayed 274,035 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 1,273 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 6,449 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

LAMAR MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Prowers, Baca and Kiowa counties, and a small segment of Bent County.
  • 28 workers; 14 plow trucks; 3 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 2010/2011, plowed 54,587 total miles, sprayed 35,433 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 2,901 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 2,701 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:

  • 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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