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State transportation crews ready to respond to first winter event this snow and ice season

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

With snow and ice season kicking off Nov. 1, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's (KYTC) nearly 2,000 snowfighters have stocked salt supplies, trained crews and 1,400 plow trucks ready to respond as needed to the state's first snow event of the season expected to hit portions of the state tonight.

Statewide, slick road conditions and low visibility are possible Monday night into Tuesday morning's commute.

“More than half of our highway district snowfighter crews will be reporting tonight to monitor conditions and combat the elements in an effort to keep Kentuckians safely moving through the Tuesday morning commute," said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “Our frontline and operations staff have been preparing for months and we encourage motorists to prepare for the change in road conditions by staying weather alert, getting vehicles winter ready and driving with caution.”

A statewide brigade of trucks and plows are ready for deployment before, during and after winter weather events, and a strike force of six plows is positioned for district deployment from Frankfort during major winter weather events. The Cabinet is stocked with a supply of 325,000 tons of salt, 1.1 million gallons of salt brine for anti-icing efforts and 1 million gallons of calcium chloride, an additive to salt for deicing.

“Our mission for snow and ice removal is to keep traffic moving safely with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes,” said Thomas. “Our statewide teams strive to provide a uniform response to achieve safe driving conditions on Kentucky roadways while considering environmental and economic factors to most efficiently use state dollars.”

During routine snow and ice events, crews operate using snow and ice priority route maps for maximum efficiency of equipment and materials usage.

Additionally, KYTC has expanded the use of automatic vehicle location (AVL) units to more than half of state-owned trucks. This technology captures air and pavement temperatures, speed data, and salt or liquid distribution rates during response activities. This provides helpful information and informs decisions regarding how to efficiently apply materials. The data captured electronically will also reduce the amount of manual recordkeeping of staff hours and materials used during events.

For severe winter storm events, the Cabinet has established a snow emergency plan similar to state emergency plans for other major weather events (e.g., floods, hurricanes and earthquakes). The snow emergency plan will allow available resources within each county to be deployed as needed to ensure optimal mobility for the highest priority routes that lead to critical locations, such as medical facilities.

Safe roadways are a shared responsibility, especially during inclement weather when risks increase. KYTC encourages motorists to prepare for winter and remain safe by following these tips:

• Stock vehicles with ice scrapers, jumper cables, blankets, a flashlight, cell phone charger, non-perishable snacks and first aid kit.

• Winterize vehicles. Have your car battery, tire pressure and brakes checked. Make sure your heater, defroster, headlights and windshield wipers are working properly.

• When snow and/or ice are on roadways, drive slowly no matter what type of vehicle you’re in. It takes more time and distance to stop your vehicle in adverse weather conditions, so break early and slowly.

• Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level.

• Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shaded areas. These are all candidates for developing black ice—a thin coating of clear ice that can form on the pavement surface that may be difficult to see.

• Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stranded at home than on the road.

• Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment.

• Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder.

• Allow more time to travel for routine commutes.

• Eliminate distractions while driving (e.g. using phone and eating).

• 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.

(provided by Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."