Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter is coming!

News From: The Colorado Department of Transportation
Issued: December 2, 2013

Motorists encouraged to prepare vehicles for winter driving, check highway & weather conditions before travel             

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures, log onto our traveler information site at www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive wireless text alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site (see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner).

WESTERN COLORADO – It’s time to get prepared for winter driving! Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance crews are on standby for winter storm patrols starting tonight at midnight. This means the Maintenance Area crews (see worker numbers below) are out on 24-hour operation—at least half out at any given time on rotating 8- or 12-hour shifts—until they reach dry road conditions.

“With winter driving conditions closing in on us, it’s important to remind drivers to take extra time if they are planning to go out in storm conditions,” said CDOT Region 3 Maintenance Superintendent, Mike Goolsby. “Our crews will do everything they can to keep our highways safe for travelers.”

Additional tips for getting prepared for winter weather travel are noted below.

Last year, Colorado experienced variable winter conditions statewide, and lower snowfall amounts in most areas. The following information provides details on each of Section 2’s Maintenance Area and Patrol locations, personnel and equipment. Note that in addition to the patrols crews listed below, the Maintenance Section also includes special crews dedicated to rest area maintenance, heavy equipment operation and shop maintenance.
The ridge of high pressure over Colorado will flatten over the next two days as a large closed low-pressure system approaches from the southwest. Warm air will continue to move into the state today with increasing amounts of moisture in the upper portion of the atmosphere. Winds will be in the low to moderate range from the west and southwest statewide. Low-level moisture will increase this evening as the closed low moves into California and begins to track across the southwest US. Precipitation, if any, will be limited to the high peaks until Thursday when moist southwest flow moves into the San Juan Mountains. The combination of the closed low and a second system moving in from the north could make for an interesting holiday weekend.</p>

CDOT Region 3, Section 2 Maintenance, Grand Junction
The entire Grand Junction Maintenance Section (also see individual maintenance areas within this Section, below) has 258 maintenance workers and 136 snow plows. Trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks will carry sand/salt for providing traction or, at optimum temperatures, sand pre-wetted with liquid deicer for traction and effective ice-melting. Section 2 maintenance crews take care of 4,038 lane-miles (the combined lengths of each lane on every highway in the section). Total Section Budget for 2014:  $25,760,015.

Grand Junction Maintenance Area
Patrols located in:  Grand Junction (3 plows), Whitewater (3 plows), Cedaredge (3 plows), Gateway (2 plows), two patrols in Loma (6 plows total), Mesa (3 plows), DeBeque (3 plows), Parachute (3 plows), Grand Junction (3 plows) and the Fruita Rest Area. There are 44 maintenance workers, 57 pieces of equipment (including 29 snowplows, 7 of which are equipped with *MDSS) and 1,518.53 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget:  $1,023,896.

Montrose Maintenance Area
Patrols located in: two in Montrose (7 plows), Lake City (3 plows), Gunnison (4 plows), Crested Butte (2 plows), Blue Mesa (3 plows), Delta (4 plows), Crawford/Black Mesa (2 plows), and Paonia (3 plows). There are 44 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment (including 27 snowplows, 4 of which are equipped with *MDSS), and 1,048.52 total lane miles. Total winter budget: $1,225,573.

Glenwood Springs Maintenance Area
Patrols located in:  Rifle (3 plows), two in Glenwood Springs (6 plows), Aspen (5 plows), Carbondale (3 plows), plus Rest Area patrols are located at No Name, which maintain rest areas at Rifle, No Name, and Grizzly Creek. There are 40 maintenance workers, 40 pieces of equipment (including 18 snowplows, 16 of which are equipped with *MDSS), and 703.29 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $1,341,925.

I-70 Hanging Lake Tunnel Maintenance Area (MP 125 in Glenwood Canyon)
Crews maintain the tunnel and its control center 24/7, dispatching maintenance patrol crews to highway incidents from I-70 mm 213 to the Utah border on I-70 corridor, and secondary roads from Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison and Leadville areas. There are 33 maintenance workers, 15 pieces of equipment (including 1 snowplow).

Gypsum Maintenance Area
Patrols are located in:  two in Gypsum (6 plows), Wolcott (3 plows), two in Dowd Junction (10 plows), Leadville (6 plows), and Twin Lakes (2 plows), Vail Pass (8 plows); also Bair, Edwards and Hanging Lake rest areas. There are 54 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment (including 35 snowplows, 21 of which are equipped with MDSS), and 769 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $2,047,792.

Summit County Maintenance/Paul Area (MP 216)
Patrols are located in:  Silverthorne (for I-70 Frisco to east Summit County, 10 plows), Silverthorne (for SH 9 and surrounding, 4 plows), Vail Pass (6 plows), Loveland Pass (4 plows) and Frisco (2 plows). This maintenance area also includes the rest area on Vail Pass. There are 39 maintenance workers (not including control room and office staff), 59 pieces of equipment (including 27 snowplows, 22 of which are equipped with MDSS), and 262.94 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). Total winter budget: $2,047,792.

*Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), installed on many CDOT plow trucks throughout the state, combines advanced weather prediction, advanced road condition prediction and rules of practice for anti-icing and de-icing to generate road treatment recommendations on a route-by-route basis. The goal of MDSS is to provide more effective use of maintenance resources in order to increase safety, reliability and mobility on roadways. The MDSS system allows CDOT crews to input real-time conditions, including road and ambient temperature, type of snow removal products being used and the application rate. After comparing the information to 15 weather reports, the system will then provide suggested treatments based on the information and models. The system may tell the operator to re-treat the road at a later time, apply different products at different rates or even to continue current procedures. The suggested treatment can then be followed or the operator can override the system.

Plan your trip! Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving for tips, road conditions, information on CDOT’s 14-hour snow plow coverage and more; or call 511 for statewide road conditions. Also, sign up for FREE wireless text and/or e-mail updates on road conditions/closures—see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner of our web site home page. Motorists can also log onto the National Weather Service’s site at http://weather.gov/.
Always keep the top half of your gas tank full. It can give you better traction and gives you a bigger margin of error if you get stuck and have to keep the engine running periodically to keep warm.
If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle's safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables, an ice scraper and lock de-icer.
Remember that 4-wheel drive does not mean 4-wheel stop. A 4-wheel drive vehicle will not stop any better in icy conditions, especially if you have inadequate snow tires.
Be sure of your route. Don't go exploring in the back-country without some local knowledge, especially during a storm or when one is bearing down anywhere near your location.
Be sure you have good tires. The Colorado State Patrol recommends at least 1/8 of an inch tread depth. All season radials on a front-wheel-drive passenger vehicle are adequate for most situations; install them on all four tires. Four snow tires on most rear-wheel drive vehicles are usually adequate. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks) and do not usually affect passenger vehicles (please see information on Colorado’s chain law at http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/commercial-vehicles/colorado-chain-law.url).
In poor visibility or even whiteout conditions, don't drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor or no visibility can lead to large chain reaction accidents. Remember you can't see around mountain curves and corners, either.
In addition to these winter driving tips, CDOT reminds all motorists to respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road, and never drink and drive.
Always buckle up!

**Snow Removal Products:
Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions that utilize up to 30 percent magnesium chloride, this product is effective for pavement surface temperatures down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit .
Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride:  In solutions up to 27 percent magnesium chloride, this product is used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit. These products have a corn-processed byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.
Ice Slicer:  This is a solid product made up of mainly sodium chloride; it also contains small amounts of other materials making it more effective at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride.