JEFFERSON CITY – In an attempt to get a jump on this year’s winter season, the Missouri Department of Transportation will hold its annual winter operations drill on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 22. The drill has been expanded to two days this year to accommodate social distancing requirements due to COVID-19.
Motorists may notice increased numbers of MoDOT vehicles on state routes during the drill. In rural areas, crews will deploy after 8 a.m. In urban areas, the drill will not begin until after 9 a.m. The exercise should be completed by 3 p.m.
“Winter weather seems to start earlier every year,” said Natalie Roark, state maintenance director. “We’ve scheduled this year’s drill a little earlier to make sure we all know our roles during a winter storm so we can do our jobs successfully.”
More than 3,000 MoDOT employees are involved in clearing roads and bridges as quickly as possible when winter weather hits. During the drill, MoDOT employees will react to a simulated forecast of significant snow for the entire state. The department’s emergency operations centers will activate and maintenance employees will be deployed to their trucks. Emergency communications systems will also be tested.
The drill serves as a training reminder to make sure proper equipment, plowing techniques and safety measures are used. In addition, every piece of equipment—every truck, motor grader, snow blower and tractor—is inspected and calibrated to conserve materials.
One of the most valuable parts of the drill is that it allows MoDOT’s newest employees the opportunity to drive a snowplow over their designated routes so they are aware of obstacles and obstructions, such as curbs and raised islands, that might be hidden in snow or ice.
MoDOT spent more than $66 million on winter operations last year and used over 180,000 tons of salt; 3 million gallons of salt brine; 80,000 tons of abrasives; 350 tons of calcium chloride; 24,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride; 90,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride; and almost 500,000 gallons of beet juice.
In an average winter, MoDOT employees will plow about 6 million miles of snow and ice, which is enough to go to the moon and back 13 times.
For information on road conditions across the state, safe traveling tips, and other winter weather information, visit www.modot.org.