Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Transportation is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow this season.
Over the last several weeks, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks for the winter season.“Tennessee often sees the bulk of its winter weather in January and February,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Our salt bins are fully stocked and our employees are ready to mobilize in the event of inclement weather. Clearing our highways as quickly as possible is essential in our efforts to keep motorists safe and keep traffic moving.”
TDOT’s statewide 2015/2016 winter weather budget is $19.5 million, and includes salt, salt brine, overtime for employees, and equipment maintenance. The department has a total of two salt vendors to refill salt bins in all 95 Tennessee counties.
TDOT currently has more than 250,000 tons of salt and nearly 2 million gallons of salt brine ready for use. Salt brine is a salt/water mixture used as a pre-treatment for roads prior to a winter storm or to melt snow on roadways when temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark. Salt is applied to roads once snow has started to accumulate.
When snow hits Tennessee, TDOT ice and snow removal teams focus first on clearing interstates and heavily traveled state routes and will specifically target areas vulnerable to freezing, such as hills, curves, ramps, bridges and interchanges. During prolonged weather events, crews may have to clear roadways repeatedly.
TDOT Tries New Snow Plow Simulators for Training
There are many challenges to driving a snow plow truck. In order to better prepare some of our newer drivers, TDOT is using a pilot training program to determine the benefit of using a simulator for winter weather.
TDOT is focusing on training construction staff who have recently obtained a Commercial Driver’s License and other new operations staff who may be driving a truck this winter. About 260 employees statewide were trained by the end of 2015.
What is AWOS and how it helps you get the weather?
ou may think of TDOT as a department that only builds roads, but did you know we also have an Aeronautics Division that is responsible for licensing and inspecting 74 airports across Tennessee?
At 40 of those sites are Automated Weather Observation Systems or AWOS. The systems are very helpful for pilots, the National Weather Service and even TV meteorologists.
TDOT is currently in the process of upgrading all 40 AWOS systems across the state. All 40 AWOS systems should be updated by 2020 and will cost about $2.5 million.