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CDOT Maintenance Crews in Northwest Colorado Prepared for the Winter Ahead

October 24, 2012 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - GRAND, JACKSON, MOFFAT, RIO BLANCO, AND ROUTT COUNTIES — Governor Hickenlooper and theNational Weather Service have designated this week “Winter Weather Awareness Week” in Colorado.

Appropriately, maintenance crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the northwest portion of the state are prepared for the impending winter season with an arsenal of tools and equipment to battle the storms.

Northwest Colorado has two winter maintenance patrols; one in Craig and one in Kremmling. Altogether, more than 100 maintenance employees are dedicated to plowing and de-icing more than 1,600 lane miles of highway in Craig, Granby, Hayden, Hot Sulfur Springs, Kremmling, Maybell, Meeker, Rabbit Ears Pass, Rangely, Rifle, Skull Creek, Steamboat Springs, Walden, and Yampa.

“With the intense storms we have in this area during the winter, it is critical for us to have appropriate products, tools and equipment to help keep roads safe for motorists,” said CDOT Maintenance Supervisor Les Anderson. “We are fortunate to have extremely dedicated crews who work 12 hour shifts during nights, weekends, and holidays to help clear the highways of snow and ice.”

CDOT first treats and plows primary roads such as US 40 and State Highway (SH) 131. Secondary routes include SH 9, SH 13, SH 14, SH 125, and SH 131. 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 highway 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, visit www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving.

To help maintenance crews combat the snow and ice, CDOT will use liquid de-icers, solid de-icers, and a sand/salt 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.

The two types of solid de-icers that will be used are Ice Slicer and North American Salt. Both are granular salts mixed with magnesium chloride. Ice Slicer is primarily used for pavement temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit and below while North American Salt is primarily used for pavement temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In some areas, crews will mix the solid de-icers with sand for increased traction.

To disperse these various products, the Craig and Kremmling maintenance crews will use 39 pieces of snow removal equipment. Of the 39 pieces, 27 are snow plows used to apply solid and liquid de-icers. Also, there are eleven loaders and sixteen motor graders for the removal of heavy or large amounts of snow.

Last year, CDOT crews plowed almost 370,000 total lane miles in the Craig and Kremmling maintenance sections, sprayed more than 180,000 gallons of liquid deicers, and spread more than 16,000 tons of sand/salt products on the roadways. They expended more than 200 hours of ice control and more than 3,500 hours of specialized snow removal with heavy equipment.

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 www.cotrip.org 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 www.coloradodot.info 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 northwest 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 www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving.

**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 and North American Salt - 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.

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