Throughout the winter season, an informed public is vital to the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) successful Snow Removal and Ice Control (SRIC) program, according to Highways Commissioner Paul Mattox. “A clear understanding of our operational procedures is beneficial to both the DOH and to the public,” Mattox said.
According to Mattox, during times of inclement weather the primary goal of the DOH is to provide the traveling public with safe, passable routes.
Marvin Murphy, State Highway Engineer, indicated that advanced planning is critical to the effectiveness of the SRIC program and several factors are used to determine how resources are allotted. DOH personnel spend a considerable amount of time preparing for the winter season before the first flake of snow falls. Pre-winter SRIC plans for each of the fifty five counties in the state are generated specifically for each district with ultimate approval through the Central Office in Charleston. These plans are tailored for fighting snow and ice based on the particular conditions affecting each district. Preparation also includes taking inventory of equipment and material, assigning tasks for crews and equipment and performing “dry runs” of the process.
The severity of a winter storm and the priority of the routes dictate SRIC operations. The State of West Virginia is responsible for maintaining more than 35,000 miles of roadway, which makes prioritizing a necessity in the SRIC program. During a winter storm crews concentrate on “first priority” routes, which typically include interstates, Appalachian Corridors, and routes that connect urban centers. “The highway system and travel patterns vary in each county, therefore it is necessary to prioritize based on each county’s needs,” said Murphy.
Along with route priority, the type of roadway surface also controls the type of treatment applied. Gravel roadways are treated with sand or cinders, whereas chemicals are applied to asphalt and concrete surfaces. The chemicals would damage a gravel or tar and chip roadway. “Also, during back-to-back storm events, crews are required to stay on priority one routes before plowing the secondary routes,” Mattox reminded. “The result may be that persons living along secondary routes could see a delay of 24 to 48 hours before trucks can make it out to some areas.”
For further information contact your local or DOH District Office. Road condition information will also be available on the new WVDOT website at http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/communications/Road-Conditions/Pages/default.aspx after December 1.