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Thursday, December 24, 2009

PennDOT Crews Ready to Treat Roads During Christmas Holiday

Motorists Urged to Postpone Travel Until Freezing Rain Stops

Harrisburg – With freezing rain forecast for Christmas day, PennDOT reminds motorists that its crews will be treating and clearing roads, but freezing rain is extremely dangerous and travel should be avoided until the threat for freezing precipitation passes.

“Our crews will be spending time away from their families during the Christmas holiday to help keep state roads passable,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Scott Christie, P.E. “While the memories of last week’s storm are still fresh in the mind of many of us, this upcoming storm could bring freezing rain which can quickly create havoc on roads. Motorists need to carefully monitor forecasts and be prepared to adjust travel plans if necessary.”

According to PennDOT, its strategy for freezing rain is highly dependent on localized weather forecasts and what works in one county may not necessarily work in another.

“Procedures like anti-icing, where roads are treated with brine before a storm, may or may not be used,” Christie said. “Our decision really comes down to a science based on specific forecasts for temperature, winds, type of precipitation expected and how much salt residue is still on the roadway from last week’s storm.”

PennDOT will be treating interstates and other high-volume expressways first while secondary state routes are a lower priority. During this anticipated storm, motorists should not expect all roads to be completely free of ice until after the precipitation has stopped or temperatures have warmed to above freezing. Drivers need to be alert for rapid changes in weather and road conditions.

Because weather and road conditions can deteriorate quickly, motorists should always check the weather forecast before traveling. Road conditions for interstates and some limited-access highways is available by calling 511 while stopped in a safe location, or by visiting www.511pa.com. Internet visitors should click on travel conditions, then the traffic map and then check the winter road condition icon on the map legend.

Motorists who must travel should allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks and, for safety reasons, never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading winter materials.

PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.

For more winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter.

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