Employees for the Department of Transportation are prepared to keep motorists as safe as possible during a winter storm that could commence Thursday night.
Crews from the three western DOT divisions —a territory that includes 25 counties and stretches from Murphy to Mt. Airy — will be working around the clock in 12-hour shifts before, during and after the upcoming snow storm.
“We get a lot of snow up here every year, so we know how to deal with it,” said Division 11 Maintenance Engineer Charles Reinhardt who oversees the eastern mountains. “As always, keeping the roads as safe as possible is our top priority.”
Specific preparations vary from county to county based on local forecasts that vary from a light dusting to multiple inches of snow.
The general procedures for road preparation are similar, as are the priority for clearing roads. Many counties in Division 11, which includes Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Caldwell, Wilkes, Surry and Yadkin counties — will apply de-icing chemicals ahead of the storm, including Watauga County. Others have salt on the roads remaining from last week.
In Division 13 — Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Buncombe, McDowell, Burke and Rutherford counties — teams are scheduled to apply brine through the standard procedure beginning with bare pavement primary routes.
In Division 14 — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Macon, Jackson, Haywood, Transylvania, Henderson and Polk counties — maintenance engineer Ralph Cannaday said all interstate and primary roads should receive a brine treatment on Thursday.
“We are certainly prepared to deal with this winter snow,” Cannaday said. “The one thing that might make this a little different is the possibility for single-digit temperatures which could make pushing snow a little more difficult.
“All in all, it should be a routine snow event.”
When the snow starts to fall, crews — both from the Department of Transportation as well as contractors — will begins snow removal in a priority order.
Interstate and four-lane divided primary routes are cleared first. Then other U.S. North Carolina routes will be cleared, followed by other paved secondary routes, then subdivisions, and finally unpaved roads.
“It’s important to keep motorists safe and our interstate commerce moving,” Division 13 Maintenance Engineer Mark Gibbs said. “We will take whatever action is necessary to include working 12-hour shifts, 24-hours per day to clear our roads as quickly as possible for motorists in Western North Carolina.”
For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.