UDOT prepping to keep roads clear as first winter storm of season approaches

Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 19:40:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Snow may be on the way for Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and the Utah Department of Transportation is making sure they are ready for winter on Utah roadways.

A small army of UDOT workers with an armada of heavy equipment have been preparing nonstop to meet the challenge of this season's first winter-like storm.

They've had a little extra time to get ready this fall due to our unusually warm November, but the snow is coming.

“When the roads get bad and people are sliding off everywhere, and people forget to drive the first time in snow, yeah, it's kind of crazy,” Plow driver Jake Brown said.

Jeff Reynolds with UDOT’s Incident Management Team said they’re prepared for that “crazy.”

"We are ready to rock 'n' roll!" he said.

More than 500 full-time snowplow drivers will pilot 533 plows across Utah to keep 6,000 miles of state highways and nearly 1,000 miles of interstate cleared.

They have 2.5 million gallons of salt brine, 220,000 tons of salt, and 20,000 tons of volcanic cinders ready to be applied to the roads when the storms hit.

And they say the best advice for drivers facing winter conditions remains unchanged.

Reynolds said: “It’s kind of like a broken record, I mean: Slow down."

Keeping the roads clear is a difficult job all by itself, but experienced plow drivers say commuters can help make it easier by simply slowing down and using common sense.

“They are going to be in front of you, and it seems like they are going slow, but they can keep up with traffic and it is safer behind them than it is in front of them,” Brown said of snow plows. “When people pass us they usually end up losing control, and ending up into the wall or the guardrail or hitting another vehicle, and it's just not worth it. So just have some patience."

In the event you do get into a wreck or wind up stranded, UDOT also has recommendations for you to stay safe until help arrives. They recommend you have blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables and something to eat and drink, like energy bars and water, stored somewhere inside your vehicle before winter arrives.

“The biggest thing we are trying to get out to the public right now is to be prepared yourself," Reynolds said. "We are prepared, and we need you to be prepared."

Some other common sense tips are to make sure your tires are up for winter driving, and make sure they are properly inflated. Also make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid and that your wipers work properly.