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UDOT plows work relentlessly to stay on top of snowstorm

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-21 21:48:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Department of Transportation plows spent Monday making passes in the Salt Lake Valley and up Parley’s Canyon in problematic conditions.

The unrelenting snow continued to stack up after each round of plowing, and UDOT said it made it difficult to keep the roads clear all morning.

Station foreman Robert Giolas said drivers began their routes at 5 a.m. to pre-treat the roads. Once the storm hit, they switched to salting, brining and plowing.

“When it came in, it came in with a vengeance,” Giolas said, of the storm.

Plow driver Seth Bowen described conditions as a “whiteout, a complete blizzard.”

“This right here has only been sitting for 15 minutes since there was a plow truck on this,” he said, pointing to the highway in front of him. The road was already covered in a layer of snow.

Bowen then passed a semi-truck with no chains, stranded on the hill.

“You get one stuck, and it's a domino effect,” he said.

Unchained semis spun out and became stuck up Parley’s Canyon earlier in the morning. Bowen said it led to a traffic jam, preventing plows from effectively working the area.

It forced UDOT to shut down I-80 eastbound for more than an hour during the morning commute, until the plows were able to clear the highway.

Even though I-15, I-215 and I-80 stayed open in the valley, Giolas said the Spaghetti Bowl remained a huge concern.

“This snow was incredible. It was incredible,” he said. “We started… at 7:30 this morning. We made one round, and it didn't even look like we touched it.”

He and Bowen explained that the plows faced another problem—drivers following too close or passing the plows.

They both said it’s dangerous to pass snow plows, because it makes it difficult for the plows to maneuver. Bowen said a car hit a plow driving behind him on Monday morning.

They remind drivers to slow down, and leave extra space behind snow plows.