CDOT Maintenance Crews in Brush and Fort Morgan Prepared for the Winter Ahead

October 24, 2012 - Northeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 4 - MORGAN, WASHINGTON, AND YUMA COUNTIES — Governor Hickenlooper and the National Weather Service have designated this week “Winter Weather Awareness Week” in Colorado.

Appropriately, maintenance crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in parts of Logan, Morgan, Washington, and Weld counties are prepared for the impending winter season with an arsenal of tools and equipment to battle the storms. There are 44 maintenance employees dedicated to plowing and de-icing state highways in Akron, Brush, Fort Morgan, Wiggins, and Yuma. To help crews combat snow and ice along approximately 1,914 lane miles of highway, a variety of equipment and products will be used throughout the winter.

“Last year was the first year we used our tow plow trailer, which is pulled behind a regular plow, to plow two lanes of I-76 with only one employee behind the wheel,” said CDOT Maintenance Supervisor Wes Templeton. “Not only did this help us improve efficiency, but we were also able to improve the amount of highway lanes we could cover during storms while simultaneously increasing safety.”

The tow plow, which is used on I-76 between Wiggins and Atwood, will be used again this year and can plow and/or de-ice 24 feet of interstate at one time. A second plow follows the tow-plow trailer to clear the shoulders of any remaining snow (see a video of the tow plow in action at When the tow plow is in use, both lanes of I-76 will be blocked and the snow plow will be traveling at a maximum speed of 35 MPH. Both the snow plow and tow plow will be equipped with flashing lights and motorists should be prepared for slower travel speeds. Motorists should also stay far back from the plow as it is the safest spot with a clear roadway and increased traction.

CDOT always treats and plows primary roads first such as US 34, I-76, and US 85. Secondary routes include State Highway (SH) 14, SH 39, SH 52, SH 60, SH 66, SH 79, SH 144, SH 257 and SH 263. Highway segments with an annual average daily traffic (AADT) count less than 1,000 will experience limited snow removal operations. For the most part, CDOT crews will maintain these highways 14 hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. (exceptions may be granted for school bus routes, highway segments with high accident rates or hospital/emergency routes). To see a complete list of highways with limited plow coverage,

“Although the tow plow has helped our crews considerably, we also have a variety of snow removal tools that we will be using this winter,” Templeton added. “This year we have expanded our use of liquid de-icers to the Yuma area, which will help increase safety and reduce snow buildup on US 34 and State Highway 59.”

To help maintenance crews combat the snow and ice, CDOT will still continue to use liquid de-icers, solid de-icers, and a sand/Ice Slicer mixture. The two main types of liquid de-icers that will be in used this winter are magnesium chloride and cold temperature magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride* is effective at pavement temperatures above 16 degrees Fahrenheit while cold temperature modified magnesium chloride* is effective for pavement temperatures below 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Trucks are equipped with infrared sensors to monitor ambient and pavement temperatures throughout a storm.

Ice Slicer is used by its self as a de-icer and blended with sand to be used for traction in critical areas. Ice Slicer is a mined product that is naturally harder than regular road salt, yet still softer than sand. The result is a drastic improvement in melting power and traction without risking broken windshields or requiring constant reapplication. Ice Slicer is primarily used for pavement temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit and below.

To disperse these various products, the maintenance crews will use 42 pieces of snow removal equipment. Of the 42 pieces, 31 are snow plows used to apply solid and liquid de-icers. There are also seven loaders and two motor graders for the removal of heavy or large amounts of snow. Crews use two sweepers to clean up material following snow storms.

In addition to the products and equipment, CDOT utilizes real-time technology called the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), which combines advanced weather prediction, advanced road condition prediction and rules of practice for anti-icing and de-icing to generate road treatment recommendations on a route-by-route basis. The goal of MDSS is to provide more effective use of maintenance resources in order to increase safety, reliability, mobility on roadways, and reduce costs.

The MDSS system 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 will then provide suggested treatments based on the current and historical information and models. The system may 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 can then be followed or the operator can override the system. Thirty one trucks are equipped with MDSS this year.

Last year, CDOT used approximately 45,021 gallons of liquid de-icer and 1,300 tons of the Ice Slicer and sand/Ice Slicer mixture. Crews also plowed 77,928 lane miles in Weld County and portions of Morgan and Larimer counties.

While CDOT is prepared for the winter ahead, it is also important for motorists to be prepared. CDOT strongly encourages motorists to plan ahead by visiting or by calling 511 anywhere in Colorado. Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also sign up for e-mail and text message alerts by visiting and clicking on the green cell phone icon in the upper right corner under the search function. You can subscribe to any of the lists for free and there is an entire list dedicated to northeast Colorado.

Here are a few winter driving tips to remember:

  • Be sure your windshield wiper fluid reservoirs are full as liquid de-icers may stick to your windshield.
  • Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room and don’t pass them on the right.
  • Slow down! Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery.
  • Be prepared. Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, water, and nonperishable food in your car.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread.

For more information about CDOT’s snow removal plan including equipment and products, visit

**Snow Removal Products:

Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 30% - Effective for use down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit pavement surface temperature.

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

Ice Slicer - A solid product that is mainly sodium chloride with small amounts of other materials that help this product 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.