Tuesday, December 28, 2010
ADOT Prepared as Major Winter Storm Moves Into Arizona
ADOT staff and plows are prepared to tackle snow and ice on interstate and state routes throughout the holiday weekend, but drivers should be prepared for temporary highway closures, quickly changing weather conditions and unpredictable roadways. I-40 and I-17 will remain the top priorities in Northern Arizona, patrolled by ADOT crews who consistently lead first responders into situations like those expected this week.
This week’s forecast calls for high winds and heavy snow – up to 20 inches – on Wednesday and Thursday, along with very cold temperatures that will lower the snow elevation significantly. ADOT is already making preparations to temporarily close a few Northern Arizona highways with little notice if the large amount of snow and ice create unsafe conditions for the traveling public.
Some of the highways likely to be closed temporarily include:
•US 180 between mileposts 236 (Kendrick Park) and 248 (Cedar Ranch)
•SR 89A between mileposts 386 (Pumphouse Wash) and 397 (Forest Highlands)
•SR 64 between mileposts 268 and 295 (east entrance to Grand Canyon National Park)
These possible closures will allow more resources to be used on the highest priority roads. ADOT’s first priority is to keep Interstates 40 and 17 clear of snow and ice and open to drivers. If blowing and drifting snow become severe, even the interstate routes may be closed, as was experienced last year.
ADOT’s first priority is public safety, and snowplowing is always a main focus during critical winter safety operations. These operations are a year-round focus for ADOT. The agency prepares by servicing equipment, training personnel and stocking up on materials. When weather hits, ADOT staff clear the snow and ice, focusing on the most critical transportation routes first. Afterwards, Transportation Department personnel repair damaged roads and equipment. It’s a continuous cycle, but one that is crucial as we work to ensure the safety and mobility of the traveling public.
Resources translate into readiness. ADOT has 395 employees who are trained snowplow operators. During winter storms, these operators typically work 12-hour shifts to keep roads clear and open. ADOT also has 196 snowplow trucks in its fleet statewide that are serviced, staffed and ready to go. In addition, Arizona is fully stocked with deicer chemicals, which include a granular product called Ice Slicer and liquid magnesium chloride. Finally, ADOT has many employees statewide who are ready to manage operations during the height of any winter storm.
While ADOT is prepared to keep the roads clear and open as we have in years past, motorists should be prepared when driving through regions prone to snowy and icy conditions. That includes becoming more familiar with safe driving tips and carrying a winter preparedness kit in your vehicle. This information can be found below and also on ADOT’s “Know Snow” Web site at www.azdot.gov/KnowSnow. The Web site also contains downloadable snow maps of snowplowing routes.
Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT’s Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state. The Web site features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.
ADOT reminds motorists to drive with caution and offers these tips:
•Slow down. Drive defensively. Be patient and allow additional time for your trip.
•Carry snow chains or cables, in case highways are snow-packed and icy. Also be sure to pack an emergency kit in your car that includes a fully charged cell phone, extra food and water, blankets, a flashlight, extra batteries, a shovel, an ice scraper, and sand for traction.
•Leave sufficient space between your vehicle and others. Give yourself plenty of room and time to stop to avoid upcoming hazards.
•If stopped on the roadway, leave room for emergency vehicles to get around you.
•Don’t follow snowplows too closely, and do not pass them.
•Make sure your vehicle has plenty of fuel and pack extra clothing for winter weather.
•If you slide off the roadway, stay with your vehicle. ADOT or the Highway Patrol will respond.
•Check weather and road conditions before you leave. Let someone know your route.
More tips are available from the Arizona Department of Public Safety at http://www.azdps.gov/Media/News/View/?p=280.