4/24/2014

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Crews prepare to work on snowy highways this winter

Crews prepare to work on snowy highways this winter

YAKIMA, Wash.-- As the weather is getting colder, road crews are for the big transition. Hiring for extra help on state highways is done. After having the summer to work on bigger projects like repaving I-82, crews are gearing up to keep drivers safe when it snows.

There's still a lot of work to be done within the Department of Transportation now that all the summer highway projects are done. The attention turns to snow plows.

"Usually when you're out there and it's snowing, the roads probably aren't going to be in the most operable shape," DOT Maintenance Supervisor Scott Clark said. 

For DOT, it's largely about manpower. The department hired more than a hundred employees for winter. WashDot will have crews on the job around the clock during the season. Right now, they're being trained on all the equipment. 

"Running the trucks themselves along with the traffic and the weather is another hazard so we want to make sure that crews are up to date and comfortable with what they're doing out there," Clark said. 

The first snowstorm of the season usually causes the most problems. Dan Huff sees a lot of other drivers who don't seem to be ready for it.
 
"You'll drive to Sunnyside or something and see a few wrecks along the way and occassionally you'll see someone in a ditch that passed you a while back," Dan Huff, who lives in Yakima, said. 

"They're still in their summer and their fall driving mode so they're driving too fast and they're not really prepared for the icy conditions or the black ice that you have," Clark said. 

DOT crews will be on hand 24 hours a day starting late November. Both liquid and salt mixtures will be ready to treat the highways immediately.

At least seven trucks will be on the clock in our region at all hours. Liquid ice melt and salt melt trucks will both be used once it starts snowing.

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