Even though Missouri Department of Transportation road crews have already been out this year battling winter weather in certain parts of the state, the department will still hold its annual winter operations drill Nov. 7.
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.
“The annual drill helps to make sure we all know our roles during a winter storm so we can do our jobs successfully,” said Natalie Roark, state maintenance director. “More than 3,500 MoDOT employees are involved in ensuring we clear 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.
“Careful planning and preparation mean our crews can mobilize when needed, and our equipment will be ready,” said Roark.
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 $64 million on winter operations last year and used more than 180,000 tons of salt; 4 million gallons of salt brine; 150,000 tons of abrasives; 500 tons of calcium chloride; 100,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride; 180,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride; and almost 700,000 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.