COVINGTON, Ky. -- With more than 31,000 tons of salt and 139 snowplows on hand and a wintry mix on the way Tuesday morning, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 crews are now on winter weather duty.
Since October, district crews have been inspecting snowplows, calibrating salt-spreading equipment and developing snowstorm response procedures to keep District 6 state roads passable during inclement weather. This preparation readies them for the challenges that may come their way between November and March in salt spreaders and other equipment ready in Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton and Robertson counties.
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“The District 6 snowplow operators and support personnel are an experienced group of men and women who are always ready on short notice to respond to winter weather events to make sure our roadways are the best they can be,” said Bob Yeager, acting chief district engineer for District 6. “I can’t say enough about the dedication of our employees that respond during some very tense snow events.”
The mission of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is to keep traffic moving in a safe manner with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes. Snow removal is based on a priority route system based on traffic volume and roadway access to critical needs. Maintenance crews follow current snow and ice priority route maps during routine snow and ice occurrences.
“During major storms, resources may be diverted to interstate routes or critical corridors to ensure those remain open,” Yeager said. “When conditions dictate, we have the opportunity to be proactive and treat roadways prior to the onset of an event, have trucks on the roadways at the beginning of most all events, and be able to react quickly with resources as conditions change.”
KYTC has also developed a new webpage for all snow and ice information, including priority routes, helpful winter weather tips and fact sheets and informational videos on salt application and snow removal.
In the northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell, District 6 is responsible for 1,871 lane miles of roadway. Crews have stockpiled 16,500 tons of salt and more than 26,000 gallons of brine for de-icing in the three counties. Seventy-six trucks are available for snow and ice removal – three of which will concentrate on the six-mile section of I-75 between Buttermilk Pike and the Brent Spence Bridge that includes the “Cut in the Hill.”
Every snow storm is different and presents unique challenges, such as air temperature, pavement temperature, timing of snowfall and ice. Last year, District 6 crews used more than 33,429 tons of salt, approximately 95,943 gallons of salt brine and 48,305 gallons of liquid chloride for snow and ice events. In all, District 6 spent $5.1 million on equipment, materials and labor.
New this season for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – statewide:
New equipment has been secured, including a special teams strike force of eight retrofit snowplows housed in Frankfort for statewide deployment as needed in winter weather emergencies. The strike force is reserved for high-priority routes to ensure interstates remain open.
Inventory of materials and equipment:
The Cabinet is winter-ready, fully stocked with a supply of 431,200 tons of salt, 1.1 million gallons of salt brine and 1.1 million gallons of calcium chloride.
The Cabinet has approximately 980 deployable trucks and plows among the 125 snow and ice front-line maintenance crews. Another 451 contracted trucks are available to assist in snow and ice operations.
Maintenance crews have prepared rosters and schedules, calibrated salting equipment, prepped plows, reviewed plowing strategies and completed safety training.
The Cabinet will efficiently manage equipment, salt supplies and other snow-fighting materials. Districts will actively look for opportunities to shift resources for sharing with other districts as needed, focusing on the statewide team goal of serving all Kentucky citizens.
The following measures will help keep motorists safe and prepared:
- Put yourself in emergency mode
- Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level
- Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stuck at home than to be stuck on the road
- Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment
- Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder
- Allow time for a slower commute
- Winterize vehicles
- Supply vehicles with blankets, flash light and an emergency supply kit
- Know before you go. Visit goky.ky.gov and download the free Waze app to check traffic conditions before you travel
- Eliminate distractions (e.g. operating phone and eating) while driving
- Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash