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CDOT Set to Battle the Winter Ahead

November 20, 2012 - ICE & SNOW, TAKE IT SLOW! Southeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 2 - COLORADO SPRINGS – With the start of the holiday season around the corner and the beginning of winter a few weeks away, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) publicized its adverse weather maintenance plans for southeastern Colorado today.

“Keeping our highways clear of snow and ice during every snow event can be challenging, but we have very dedicated and well-trained employees who help keep our highways open and passable even during the worst of conditions,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt.  “While our crews do their best to battle Mother Nature, we need your help as a motorist to keep our highways safe.  Slow down when driving on wet or snowy roads and near snow plows."

CDOT’s statewide snow and ice maintenance budget is $60.9 million.  Region Two – which includes all of southeastern Colorado – is budgeted at $9.2 million, and includes 202 maintenance employees.  In addition, 143 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.

“We’re ready to battle winter over the next few months,” said CDOT Maintenance Superintendent Adam Padilla.  “Highway safety is job one and, in addition to our personnel and heavy equipment, we have other tools to use during snowy and icy conditions, including MDSS, our automatic bridge de-icing systems and the chain station for large trucks to use before they travel over Monument Hill when the chain law is in effect."

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 19 units that cover the Colorado Springs area, on 14 units in the Pueblo area and 10 in the Trinidad area.  “It’s a key tool, helping us to get a jump on most storms," 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 counties.
  • 58 workers; 41 plow trucks; 14 used to apply liquid deicers, including two semi-tankers (4,500 gallons)
  • 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 2011/2012, plowed 211,555 total miles, sprayed 934,575 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 8,888 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 18,975 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. 
  • 54 workers; 37 plow trucks; 10 used to apply liquid deicers, including one semi-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 2011/2012, plowed 179,950 total miles, sprayed 638,539 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 4,674 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 15,611 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.
  • 27 workers; 19 plow trucks; four used to apply liquid deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: U.S. 50 between Fowler and Hadley Park.
  • During winter of 2011/2012, plowed 48,017 total miles, sprayed 77,054 gallons of liquid de-icer, spread 989 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 4,194 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

TRINIDAD MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Las Animas and Huerfano counties, and a small segment of Pueblo County.
  • 31 workers; 22 plow trucks; nine used to apply liquid deicers.
  • DeIcers applied: I-25 between Colorado/New Mexico state line and Mile 59 (north of Walsenburg)
  • During winter of 2011/2012, plowed 167,860 total miles, sprayed 372,821 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 17,088 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 13,171 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

LAMAR MAINTENANCE AREA

  • Primarily covers Prowers, Baca and Kiowa counties, and a small segment of Bent County.
  • 32 workers; 24 plow trucks; five used to apply liquid 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 2011/2012, plowed 73,302 total miles, sprayed 67,846 gallons of liquid deicer, spread 1,942 tons of sand/salt and Ice Slicer and spent 6,204 labor hours in snow removal-type activities.

Drivers can access current information on road and weather conditions by viewing thewww.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.  Updates also are available via Twitter @coloradodot and on CDOT’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/coloradodot.

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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