MDOT Claims It is Ready For WinterBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 21 Dec 2011 05:06pm |
Today is the first official day of winter, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation says it prepared for the weather that comes with it. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports MDOT officials have learned from last year's treacherous snow and ice.
Hundreds of tons of salt, sand, and other chemicals are stocked piled and as many as 80-trucks ready to deploy along Mississippi roads if snow and ice returns to the magnolia state this year.
Last year, Mississippi experienced some of the worst winter weather in recent history with icy conditions reaching almost to the Gulf coast.
MDOT's assistant Chief Engineer Mark McConnell says the storm taught them not to underestimate Mississippi winters.
"Last year was about the worst we have had since i have been here. What we learned was, the snow and ice is going to drift to the south more than we have thought in the past. They had quite a bit more treatment to do then they have in the past," McConnell said.
While southern Mississippi didn't see heavy snow, many of the roads turn treacherously icy.
Bobby Wells...an MDOT engineer who works in District 7 in southwest Mississippi....says their normal approach to winter weather turned out to be ineffective.
"I learned that the calcium-chloride we use didn't work in a rain event, it worked for snow. So we have a sand a salt mix stocked piled for use this year," Wells said.
Even if it isn't snowing, Mississippi bridges can dangerously ice over while the rest of the roadway is only wet.
These conditions led to a major wreck and back-up on an important interchange in Jackson known as The Stack...that back-up prevented trucks from being able to treat the bridges.
MDOT Maintenance superintendent Donald Wash says they are now urging drivers to stay clear of the shoulder of the road during icy conditions.
"If they have an accident because a bridge is iced over and they close that road and traffic comes to a stop, it prevents my trucks from getting to that bridge. If they keep the shoulder of the road clear, we can go around that traffic and get there much faster," Wash said.
The long icy winter also depleted salt, sand and chemical stores....but MDOT leaders say they have refilled those stock piles and should have plenty this year.
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