With winter weather approaching, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is preparing ahead of time for icy conditions and other bad wintery weather conditions.
According to MDOT Assistant Chief Engineer for Field Operations Marl McConnell, each of MDOT's six districts has a strategic plan in place to address snow and icy conditions. Statewide, MDOT has more than 70 snow plows at its disposal and has replenished its reserves of roadway treatments, which include salt, sand and other aggregates.
This year, MDOT spent nearly $2.5 million combating winter weather.
Bill Jamieson, MDOT district engineer, said, “If bad winter weather hits, we will work on Hwy. 78 first, then Hwy. 15, then branch out to the other roads.”
During the winter months, MDOT's personnel monitor weather forecasts and when winter weather approaches, the state's maintenance staff begins preparing equipment.
The department is responsible for over 29,000 roadway miles in the state, McConnell said, so roadways must be prioritized as to which will be plowed and treated first.
“If the weather event is projected to last several days, the districts will set up shifts while monitoring the pavement temperature to insure the right treatment is being applied,” according to McConnell.
Jamieson said that if the roads become iced over, the first step is to put salt and stone on bridges because they will freeze first, then will go from there.
Last year MDOT saw an increase in winter weather in the south. Because of this, MDOT makes northern staff and equipment available to assist in the southern portion of the state if the need arises.
The Department of Transporation offers these safety tips for drivers during winter weather conditions:
Stay off the roads if possible during inclement weather.
Slow down as roadways will often be slicker than they appear.
Leave extra room to stop.
Be extra cautious on bridges and shaded roads. They are the first to freeze.
Be sure to have plenty of gas, and keep warm clothes and a blanket in the vehicle.
Keep lights and windshield clean.
Leave on low-beam headlights to improve visibility.
Slow down and move over for emergency vehicles.