MoDOT crews prepare for first winter storms

MoDOT maintenance worker Bob Lansford drills a hole so he can mount a light on the truck’s salt distribution box. MoDOT crews have been busy preparing trucks and graders for winter use in snow and ice.

MoDOT maintenance worker Bob Lansford drills a hole so he can mount a light on the truck’s salt distribution box. MoDOT crews have been busy preparing trucks and graders for winter use in snow and ice.

Not since March have MoDOT snow plows been out on the roads of Central Missouri.

On Tuesday, crews spent the day getting refamiliarized with the equipment.

Mike Belt is Missouri Department of Transportation maintenance superintendent for Cole and Boone counties. He is charge of 40 trucks and other pieces of equipment that would be used in these storms.

“We have about 100 people working during a 24-hour storm, operating on two 12-hour shifts,” he said. “Today is designed to just get them ready to operate the equipment more than worrying about the equipment itself.”

By going out now, Belt said, the drivers find out, or remember, where hazardous areas are located as well as turnaround points.

“We have a handful of new drivers, but the majority of our folks have operated this equipment before,” he said. “Our drivers can practice as many times as they need to so they, and we, are confident about their skills.”

When the first snows hit, new drivers will ride with experienced drivers, Belt said. They then switch places so the new drivers have someone with them who can tell them what they need to do better.

“On our major roads, we have 1,500 lane miles to clear,” he said. “We travel one lane at a time, taking 25-30 lane miles per truck in a one-hour cycle time. On minor roads, we have 100 to 150 lane miles and clear those two times in 12-hour shifts, focusing on rush hour times.”

Belt said there’s a lot of science that goes into snow removal.

“We don’t just jump in a truck and hit the roads,” he said. “We do have lots of calculations we have to go through, such as adjusting how much chemicals we use depending on how hard the precipitation comes down.”

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