With possible winter storms forecast in the days and weeks ahead, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Barry J. Schoch today explained that while crews will work around the clock as needed, roads will not be free of ice and snow while precipitation is falling.
“PennDOT follows weather forecasts just like our customers do, but the bottom line is that weather is unpredictable and we need to be prepared for quick changes in weather and road conditions,” Schoch said. “If significant precipitation is forecast, people shouldn’t travel unless they must. This ensures that everyone stays safe and crews can focus on treating the roads.”
This winter has already featured several storms with unexpected bursts of intense snowfall in short periods of time. When encountering such rapidly developing conditions, drivers need to slow down and leave plenty of room in front of them to deal with suddenly slippery road surfaces.
During storms, interstates and expressways are PennDOT’s primary focus and equipment may be redirected to these routes during significant winter events. Plow trucks will also be slowed when facing heavy precipitation or when many other vehicles are also on roadways. This means that during heavier storms, motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions.
How often roadways are plowed or treated with salt and other material depends on a road’s traffic volume. On interstates and expressways, PennDOT aims for its plow trucks to pass by the same point on a plow route every two hours. For other major roadways the department’s goal is for trucks to pass by the same point every two or three hours. On lower-volume roadways the department’s goal extends to every three to four hours, with less frequent cycles on roads with the lowest traffic volumes.
PennDOT’s more than 2,250 trucks travel an average of 40 miles per route and that route is traveled continuously during winter storms. Overall, PennDOT maintains 96,000 snow-lane miles. A snow-lane is calculated as the miles of road multiplied by the number of lanes; which means a one-mile section of four-lane roadway would equal four snow-lane miles.
For more information on PennDOT’s winter operations, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter and review the “PennDOT Winter Services Guide.”