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Thursday, October 15, 2009

PennDOT Prepared for Winter, Encourages Motorists to Plan Ahead

PennDOT Prepared for Winter

Harrisburg – PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., announced today that more than 2,200 plow trucks are ready to go when that first winter storm strikes the commonwealth.

“As caretaker of nearly 40,000 miles of state roads and 25,000 bridges, PennDOT strives to be as prepared as possible for whatever winter throws at us,” Biehler said. “We started preparing for this winter when last winter ended -- from our operators doing dry runs of their routes to garage staff servicing our vehicles. We work extremely hard to ensure that everyone is prepared for that first snowfall.”

About 5,400 PennDOT employees will be working hard to keep Pennsylvania roads passable during winter storms. PennDOT reminds motorists roadways such as interstates and expressways will be its primary focus and at times, the department may redirect equipment to these routes during significant winter events. During these heavier storms, motorists may encounter deeper accumulations on less traveled routes and they should adjust their driving for those conditions.

To battle these winter storms, PennDOT has budgeted $245 million this year and has more than 673,000 tons of salt stored at more than 400 locations across the state.

Salt continues to be the primary weapon against winter precipitation. PennDOT uses salt brine to pre-wet the salt, which increases its effectiveness during cold weather and helps it work more quickly. Department trucks are equipped with electronic salt spreaders that automatically dispense the correct amount of salt regardless of the vehicle’s speed.

PennDOT has agreements with more than 700 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their jurisdictions. The department also rents approximately 270 trucks and operators to assist with snow removal as needed.

While the equipment may be set, PennDOT reminds motorists that they also need to make the appropriate preparations to help navigate roads this winter.

Motorists can get a little extra help this winter when planning snowy commutes by calling 511 or visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 440 traffic cameras. Starting in November, 511 will provide simple to use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network.

“We are encouraging motorists to take advantage of 511PA and check traffic and weather conditions before they leave,” Biehler said. “We also want to stress that if you must call 511 from the road, pull over to a safe place before making the call. Your full attention should be on the road at all times when you are driving.”

Along with 511PA, PennDOT will introduce a special winter page on the department’s Web site, Two of the main features of the page will be brochures for motorists covering topics such as preparing your vehicle for winter and how PennDOT battles winter storms.

“I am cautioning every driver to take the threat of winter weather seriously and prepare,” Biehler said. “Once you are out on the highway and encounter snow, sleet or ice, it’s too late to worry if your vehicle can handle the conditions.”

PennDOT encourages motorists to have a mechanic they trust check their vehicle’s belts, hoses, battery and brakes. Drivers should also check that the heater and defroster are working properly and that the wipers don’t streak.

Motorists should also check their tires for proper inflation and sufficient tread depth. A quick way to check tread depth is to insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the entire head, your tires are worn and will not be able to pull your vehicle through winter.

In addition, if you live in an area prone to heavy snow, drivers may want to consider using dedicated snow tires or carrying a set of tire chains. At a minimum, all-season tires should at least be mud and snow rated.

The last step to equipping your vehicle for winter is to pack an emergency kit that includes items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket and small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific need they or their families may have. Items such as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, a spare cell phone or even children’s games should be included for families that need them.

Finally, motorists need to remember to slow down and increase their following distance when confronted with snowy or icy roads. In 2008, there were more than 7,700 crashes and 51 fatalities on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless changes led to the crash.


Unknown said...

It's too bad we cannot convince PennDOT to save some taxpayer money by salting and cindering only when necessary. We got our first snow storm today. The highways are so warm that of course the snow melted as soon as it hit. But already the salt and cinder trucks were out there! I wonder how much money we could save if they would not salt and cinder when it is not necessary - like 50% of the time that they do.

Anonymous said...

your a moron

Anonymous said...

Also, lets watch them plow off the tar & chips they put on the roads this summer. We PAY to have the roads chipped, then we PAY to have the chips plowed off in the winter....WHO's the Moron???

Thank You Penn Dot said...

Salt and cinders are needed when the temp. drops, like it is this evening, DUH!! Where do you think "black ice" comes from!

Quityourbellyachen and thank these men and women for keeping our roads safe for our travel.

Thanks Penn Dot for being out tonight, will make my morning travel to work much better!

Anonymous said...

We were on a bus trip to Niagra Falls today. Over 85 kids on two busses. I was very happy to see the trucks out. There were two inches on the bridges in some areas. We got home safe and sound. I feel safer in NY because they use salt and monitor better than PA. PA is governed by the enginers in their cubbie holes in the city. I've lost too many good people to the fact they didn't think it needed to be covered. I've also set and waited for someone to come along when there was 4 inches or more on the roads in the middle of the day for more than two hours and no one came. 20 years ago I drove these same roads and never had a problem. I've worked for Penn. DOT. I know what they go through. Bless everyone of the guys on the road. But they are only doing what they are told anymore and not allowed to do what they think they should. If we put them out there we should respect what they think, but these days they are not allowed to. Yes some put down cinders when not needed, but also told what to do and when to do it. We waste money in so many different ways. I would like to know I don't have to own a SUV if i don't have to drive a secondary road. I don't like seat belts but I wear them, I never had a car seat but I used them. We are ruled by so many things but I'd still like to get home safe and sound so... please don't give them slack for doing their job. We can sue if they don't. That is what !our world is today.

Anonymous said...

Penn DOT ROCKS!! Especially Galeton and Germania crew! * Thank you so much for making my travel to work everyday safe!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes the Galeton and Germania crew should be on a calandar.

Anonymous said...

I always love this time of year, when the weather changes Penndot workers are always the topic! I have worked for the D.O.T. for more than 20 years, time after time we work long hours so you the public can ram the roads for a cup of coffee, gossip at the local store etc. We are all out here to do our jobs, then return home to spend time with our family. We don't tell you how to do your job, let us worry about ours!!!! Butch Jones

Anonymous said...

just because I work for D.O.T and know exactly what the road temps were for the last two days. I would like to quiz carolyn on what they were? If she tells me anything over 35 I will call here a lier. And that was during the day they were below freezing at night.

Anonymous said...

the roads couldn't have been over 35 where I was driving. They were covered with snow this morning! (I think that PennDOT crew musta slept in. haha)..

Anonymous said...

Tell em Butch and keep up the good work! Tell Foag I said hello!! Brad

Anonymous said...

Way to go Butch. Tell the old man they are thinking of putting snow plows on school busses to help you guys out.

Anonymous said...

Penn DOT employess are like any other businesses employees, you have some that give a shit and do a good job and you have slackers, that is just the way it is.

That being said, Harrisburg is the problem when it comes to making common sense calls for our hard working men and women here in the sticks! What our hard working men and women KNOW should be done and when CAN NOT BE DONE IF they do not get the okay from behind the desk in good ole Harrisburg, IT IS WHAT IT IS!

Penn DOT employees do a darn good job when their hands are tied most of the time so give them a thank you.

Anonymous said...

penn dot dod a good job keep it up