County prepares roads for snow
A winter weather cycle can slow or change scheduled work on Polk’s 572 miles of roads, according to Polk County Manager Matt Denton.
He said Polk is prepared for the 2014-2015 winter season, which is expected to bring more than average snow and ice.
Denton referenced predictions from the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac. Indications are this winter could bring below-normal temperatures with the coldest occurring in January and early February.
However, county officials emphasize this is the time of year when Polk is usually hit by frigid temperatures.
They focus on the fact that the experience of local weather events such as the blizzard of 1993 taught important lessons.
Since that time, the public works department has purchased salt, rock and sand before the first day of winter.
Currently, this material is stockpiled and equipment – including three snowplows – is ready to roll.
“We constantly monitor the county’s road system,” said Director Karen Hubbard, public works department. “This is especially true during snow and ice events.”
Denton said county crews usually don’t use large amounts of salt, excluding bridges, due to melting that can impact roads when temperatures begin to warm.
Moisture in pavement can freeze and promote alligator cracking. When this happens, a pothole often appears and widens as more rain and cold break down material.
Additionally, snow and ice can also bring down trees that block roads and must be cleared. This can take a day or week, according to Hubbard.
Winter weather also shortens the paving season since it’s difficult to spread asphalt and other resurfacing material in temperatures below 60 degrees.
“We check the worst roads and when funding is received, we fix all the bad spots, put down a coat of asphalt and repave the entire stretch of pavement,” Denton said.
The process of selecting, submitting and funding projects can also affect the number of roads paved.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) provides Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) funds for paving projects.