STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION GEARS UP FOR WINTER WEATHER IN WESTERN MARYLAND

MDOT SHA Logo

(MDOT SHA photo: MDOT SHA Logo)


(October 29, 2014) – The State Highway Administration (SHA) is fully stocked and prepared for the upcoming winter season. Last year, Garrett County received 205 inches of snow, Allegany 122 inches and Washington 85 inches, which kept crews busy all winter long.

“Last year was a long winter even for Western Maryland and our employees worked diligently to keep roads safe and passable,” said SHA District Engineer Anthony Crawford. “Our team has kept their skills honed during the summer and strategized to further reduce salt use while maintaining safety.”

SHA is expanding the practice of wetting salt with brine or magnesium chloride prior to spreading to help salt better adhere to the road and prevent waste due to “bounce and scatter.” Experience and studies show that pre-wetting can lead to a 30 percent reduction in salt usage. Additionally, each piece of SHA equipment electronically tracks the amount of salt used during storms which allows crews and managers to adjust salting rates if needed.

Careful planning in advance of winter storms enables SHA to treat roads before the first snowflakes fly. If the forecast is calling for snow and not starting as rain, crews will spray salt brine on the roads and allow it to dry. This forms a layer of salt that helps to prevent the initial bonding of snow and ice from forming on the pavement.

In Allegany and Garrett counties, should a snow or ice storm last for two days, crews will work 12-hour shifts until the storm ends and roads are clear. Motorists should exercise extreme caution when SHA crews form “plow trains,” which is when numerous trucks team up in tandem to clear all lanes of the interstate in one pass pushing the snow from left to right onto the shoulder.

SHA works hard to keep roads passable during snow storms so that access to critical services, such as hospitals, can be maintained.  SHA reminds everyone to “Know Before You Go – Especially in Ice and Snow.”  Maryland now has free 511 traveler information.  Call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit: www.md511.org  for current travel information. Sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511 on the website.  Remember to use 511 safely - Maryland law restricts hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.

Travelers can also plan ahead before heading out by logging onto the cyber highway at www.roads.maryland.gov and clicking on “CHART.”  The CHART website offers travel information, snow emergency plans, real-time traffic camera views, weather information and average travel speed maps. 

Winter weather can present particular challenges for drivers of big rigs. With the help of a downloadable mobile phone application available at www.roads.maryland.gov, truck drivers can access emergency parking during winter storms. SHA created a list of safe parking areas available when snow reaches six inches.

Finally, access SHA on social media through Twitter @MDSHA and on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/MarylandStateHighwayAdministration.  The social media platforms are staffed Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and during major emergencies and storms.

“Remember – On Ice and Snow, Take It Slow.  SHA crews will be out until the roads are safe and passable so we are asking all motorists to partner with us and slow down and drive with extreme caution during winter weather,” added Mr. Crawford.  “Don’t Crowd the Plow is the best advice we can offer drivers.  Trying to pass these large 20-ton trucks is dangerous and could result in major damage to your much smaller vehicle if you collide.”

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