The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow this season. Over the last several weeks, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks for the winter season.
“We have more than a thousand employees who are trained in snow and ice removal, and they are ready to mobilize when winter weather hits Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Clearing our highways as quickly as possible is essential in our efforts to keep motorists safe and keep traffic moving.”
TDOT’s statewide 2013/2014 winter weather budget is $19.7 million, and includes salt, salt brine, overtime for employees, and equipment maintenance. The department has a total of three salt vendors to refill salt bins in all 95 Tennessee counties.
TDOT currently has more than 235,000 tons of salt and more than 1.8 million gallons of salt brine ready for use. Salt brine is a salt/water mixture used as a pre-treatment for roads prior to a winter storm or to melt snow on roadways when temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark. Salt is applied to roads once snow has started to accumulate.
When snow hits Tennessee, TDOT ice and snow removal teams focus first on clearing interstates and heavily traveled state routes and will specifically target areas vulnerable to freezing, such as hills, curves, ramps, bridges and interchanges. During prolonged weather events, crews may have to clear roadways repeatedly.
TDOT has a number of tools available to keep motorists informed about travel conditions including the TDOT SmartWay website (www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway) and the 5-1-1 motorist information line. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can download the TDOT SmartWay mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes
For more information about TDOT winter weather preparations, or for a regional breakdown of TDOT winter weather supplies and equipment, visit the TDOT web site at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/mediaroom/snowbuster.htm.
Also, TVA officials said the potential for icy conditions over the next few days leads to the possibility of downed power lines and service disruptions over a wide area of western Tennessee and Kentucky. The Tennessee Valley Authority is mobilizing its resources to help minimize any impact on those who rely on the electricity it provides.
TVA and contractor crews are being pre-positioned in five staging areas to allow a rapid, coordinated response with crews from local power distributors. TVA generating facilities in potentially affected areas are also making preparations to safely maintain operations.
TVA’s emergency operations centers in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville are on stand-by and are prepared to provide additional support if icy conditions affect a large area.
Taking early steps to ensure crews can be in the field quickly and effectively is a key part of TVA’s ability to reliably provide electricity to the region, it was stated. TVA has maintained a 99.999 percent reliability rating for 14 years in a row.
If icy conditions do lead to downed power lines, it’s vital to remember these safety tips:
- Treat every downed power line as “energized” and potentially dangerous.
- Never touch a downed line, or any object that may be in contact with the line
- Immediately contact your local power company.
- If a power line falls across an occupied vehicle, stay in the vehicle, as it affords the best protection against any dangerous current. Use a cell phone to call for help.
- If the vehicle must be exited due to fire or another life-threatening condition, jump clear of the vehicle without touching any part of it. Then, “shuffle” or jump away from the area, keeping both feet on the ground at the same time to minimize the chance of electric shock.
- If someone makes contact with a live electric line, do not attempt to rescue them because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 911 for assistance.