DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s winter season is under way in many parts of the state; however the Denver metro area so far has been quite mild. But that hasn’t stopped the Colorado Department of Transportation from preparing for the winter weather to come.
CDOT has doubled its number of snow plows that are equipped with a maintenance decision support system, or MDSS, to 42. The computer system helps workers determine the use of solid and liquid de-icers more efficiently. The MDSS allows crews to input real-time conditions, including road and ambient temperature.
“We look at the data, we look at the information, what the weather projection is for the next three to four hours and make those decisions accordingly,” CDOT maintenance superintendent Saleem Khattak told CBS4.
The system combines advanced weather prediction — measuring air temperature, pavement temperature, and wind along with the type of roadway to make timely decisions and adjust to changing weather conditions.
On Wednesday CDOT also announced its winter maintenance plans for the Denver metro area which includes 245 maintenance employees working 12-hour shifts during every snow event.
“While the tools and equipment are essential for winter maintenance our highways would not be clear of snow and ice without our hard working employees,” CDOT Executive Don Hunt said in a prepared statement. “Every year, our employees work around the clock during inclement weather to help keep our highways clear and safe. To ensure our plow drivers can do their job, we need the help of the traveling public to give our plows room and to drive appropriately for conditions.”
Mindy Crane with CDOT said maintenance crews statewide have budgeted $64.3 million for winter maintenance and the Denver metro area’s budget is $7.8 million.
Maintenance crews also will be using automatic de-icing systems this winter, particularly on bridges and tunnels. CDOT has three systems in the Denver metro area:
– Eastbound I-270 to Eastbound I-76
– Southbound I-25 to Northbound I-225
– Southbound I-225 to Southbound I-25
“All of the systems are designed to automatically spray liquid de-icers when the on-site sensors detect a decrease in surface temperature among other conditions such tire grip, type of moisture and depth of moisture,” Crane said.
CDOT also strongly encourages motorists to plan ahead by visiting www.cotrip.org or by calling 511 anywhere in Colorado to get current road and weather conditions 24 hours a day, every day. Sign up for e-mail and text message alerts by visiting www.coloradodot.info and clicking on the cell phone icon in the upper right corner under the search function.
Below are a few winter driving tips from CDOT to help prepare for the winter ahead:
– Be sure to carry plenty of windshield wiper fluid as liquid de-icers may stick to your windshield.
— Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room and don’t pass on the right.
— Slow down! Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery.
— Be prepared. Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, matches, water and nonperishable food in your car.
— Make sure your tires have good tread.