Pen­nDOT preps for win­ter weather

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - TURN BACK TIME - By Pen­nDOT For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

With snow al­ready vis­it­ing some ar­eas of Penn­syl­va­nia, Pen­nDOT out­lined its plans for win­ter ser­vices.

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> With snow al­ready vis­it­ing some ar­eas of Penn­syl­va­nia, Pen­nDOT Sec­re­tary Les­lie S. Richards out­lined the agency’s plans Fri­day morn­ing for win­ter ser­vices and en­cour­aged drivers to be pre­pared as well.

“Our res­i­dents count on Pen­nDOT to keep them mov­ing re­gard­less of the weather and we take that mis­sion very se­ri­ously,” Richards said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the Pen­nDOT main­te­nance fa­cil­ity in Nor­ris­town. “We have our ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment in place and our staff of ded­i­cated equip­ment op­er­a­tors, district-level staff and staff in Main­te­nance and Op­er­a­tions are ready to go.”

This win­ter, all of the more than 2,200 Pen­nDOTowned and rented plow trucks will be equipped with AVL tech­nol­ogy — mean­ing the pub­lic can view the trucks on in­ter­states and ex­press­ways this win­ter at www.511PA.com. Pen­nDOT started the AVL pro­gram in 2014 with 119 plow trucks and ex­panded it to more than 700 trucks last win­ter. The AVL unit in each truck sends a cel­lu­lar sig­nal through the sys­tem show­ing where a truck is lo­cated and whether or how much ma­te­rial is be­ing spread from the truck.

The AVL sys­tem is part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s GO-TIME ini­tia­tive, which aims to max­i­mize ef­fi­ciency, mod­ern­ize state gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions, and pro­vide the high­est qual­ity ser­vices.

Richards noted that Pen­nDOT has com­piled all of its in­for­ma­tion about win­ter se­ries into a spe­cial page on the web­site at http://www.pen­ndot.gov/ Trav­elInPA/Win­ter/Pages/de­fault.aspx.

The site also has a win­ter guide with de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about win­ter ser­vices in each of Pen­nDOT’s 11 engi­neer­ing dis­tricts.

With $205 mil­lion bud­geted for statewide win­ter op­er­a­tions, Pen­nDOT de­ploys about 4,800 on-the road work­ers and has more than 768,000 tons of salt on hand across the state.

The state’s snow plow trucks are equipped with com­put­er­ized salt spread­ers that al­low op­er­a­tors to cal­i­brate the ex­act amount of salt to be dis­trib­uted re­gard­less of the speed of the truck.

“Our equip­ment op­er­a­tors have an enor­mous amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity dur­ing a storm as they plow snow, mon­i­tor com­put­ers that con­trol the flow of salt, mon­i­tor pave­ment tem­per­a­tures and keep their eyes on traf­fic and pos­si­ble road­side ob­sta­cles,” Richards said. “We urge drivers to al­low plenty of space to snow plow op­er­a­tors so they can per­form their jobs ef­fec­tively and safely.”

When win­ter weather hits, Pen­nDOT’s pri­mary fo­cus will be on in­ter­states and ex­press­ways, and equip­ment may be redi­rected to those routes dur­ing sig­nif­i­cant win­ter events. The more traf­fic a road­way has, the more at­ten­tion it will re­ceive from plows, so mo­torists may find deeper ac­cu­mu­la­tions on less-trav­eled routes and should ad­just their driv­ing for those con­di­tions.

In ad­di­tion to plan­ning for traf­fic im­pacts, Richards noted that ve­hi­cle prepa­ra­tion is crit­i­cal to safe win­ter travel.

If mo­torists en­counter snow or ice-cov­ered roads, they should slow down, in­crease their fol­low­ing dis­tance and avoid dis­trac­tions. Last win­ter in Penn­syl­va­nia, pre­lim­i­nary data shows that there were 224 crashes re­sult­ing in 103 in­juries on snowy, slushy or ice-cov­ered road­ways where ag­gres­sive-driv­ing be­hav­iors such as speed­ing or mak­ing care­less lane changes were fac­tors.

Tires should also be checked of­ten for the cor­rect level of air pres­sure and ad­e­quate tire-tread depth to per­form on ice and snow. 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, the tires are worn and trac­tion will suf­fer. 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 be rated for use in mud and snow.

Once ve­hi­cles are travel-ready, drivers should be pre­pared for win­ter or vehi--

cle emer­gen­cies es­pe­cially if long-dis­tance travel is planned. Pen­nDOT urges mo­torists to carry an emer­gency kit.

An emer­gency kit should in­clude items such as non­per­ish­able food, wa­ter, first-aid sup­plies, warm clothes, a blan­ket, cell­phone charger and a small snow shovel. How­ever, mo­torists should tai­lor their kits to any spe­cific needs that they or their fam­i­lies may have. Con­sider adding such items as baby sup­plies, ex­tra med­i­ca­tion, pet sup­plies or even chil­dren’s games.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Pen­nDOT’s win­ter prepa­ra­tions and ad­di­tional win­ter-driv­ing re­sources for mo­torists, visit the depart­ment’s win­ter web page, www.Pen­nDOT.gov/ win­ter.

Mo­torists can check con­di­tions on more than 40,000 road­way miles, in­clud­ing color-coded win­ter con­di­tions on 2,900 miles, by vis­it­ing www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and avail­able 24 hours a day, pro­vides traf­fic de­lay warn­ings, weather fore­casts, traf­fic speed in­for­ma­tion, and ac­cess to more than 800 traf­fic cam­eras.

511PA is also avail­able through a smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tion for iPhone and An­droid de­vices, by call­ing 5-1-1, or by fol­low­ing re­gional Twit­ter alerts ac­ces­si­ble on the 511PA web­site.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

A Pen­nDOT plow re­moves some of the snow from the road sur­face and spreads salt on the Route 1 By­pass near the Univer­sity Road over­pass in Up­per Ox­ford on March 4, 2014.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

A Pen­nDOT plow re­moves some of the snow from the road sur­face and spreads salt on the Route 1 By­pass near the Univer­sity Road over­pass in Up­per Ox­ford on March 4, 2014.

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