HARRISBURG – Acting PennDOT Secretary Scott Christie, P.E., said today that PennDOT crews have made final checks on its fleet of more than 2,200 trucks in preparation for a mixed bag of winter precipitation that will impact many areas of Pennsylvania today and into this evening.
“Our crews are prepared to tackle whatever winter conditions come our way,” Christie said. “We also urge the public to monitor forecasts, pack a vehicle emergency kit and make smart travel decisions.”
In areas of the state where winter precipitation has not recently fallen, crews spent part of the day yesterday treating the major roadways with brine. Christie noted that this process, which is known as anti-icing, does not guarantee bare pavement, but rather helps crews more easily remove freezing precipitation from the road surface. Anti-icing is only used on roads that do not have sufficient salt residue left from prior storms.
“Some motorists wrongly assume that roads treated with brine should be totally free of ice and snow, but that’s simply not how the anti-icing process works,” Christie said. “Motorists need to have realistic expectations of what to expect, and if freezing precipitation is falling, roads will be passable but not completely free of ice and snow. Motorists need to slow down, increase following distance and allow more time to reach their destinations.”
PennDOT budgeted more than $216 million for winter operations this year, and through the middle of January the department has spent nearly $100 million or 46 percent. The department’s winter budget runs from Nov. 1 through March 31, meaning the agency is more than half way through its winter budget cycle.
Through Jan. 20, PennDOT has spread more than 405,000 tons of rock salt to remove freezing precipitation from state roads. Heading into the most recent storm, the department has more than 551,000 tons in reserve statewide.
PennDOT reminds motorists that roadways such as interstates and expressways are its primary focus and, at times, the department may redirect equipment to these routes during significant winter events. During these heavier storms, motorists may encounter deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and they should adjust their driving for those conditions.
Although PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. The 511 site also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA Web site.
The department also asks motorists to allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks. So far this winter, 28 PennDOT plow trucks have been struck by motorists.
For their own safety and the safety of plow operators, motorists should never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading treatment materials.
For more winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter.