County pre­pares roads for snow

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By AGNES HA­GIN Se­nior As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor

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.

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