November 22, 2010
Virginia Department of Transportation crews have already started preparing for whatever mother nature blows our way this winter. They have 48,000 tons of sand and 21,000 tons of salt ready to go, and advise Virginians to be prepared as well.
"We just want to be sure that people are prepared in case we do have another [bad] winter. Of course, we hope we don't have that but it's better to be prepared," said VDOT spokesman, Lou Hatter.
After facing much scrutiny during last year's winter blasts, VDOT officials say they're fully prepared for the worst-case scenario this winter. Maintenance workers have gone back to the drawing board to follow through on what they learned last year. The result is the unveiling of new tools and a new commitment to getting snow and ice off roadways.
"It's not a radical change in strategy. It's just capitalizing on the lessons learned and when you look back and say what could we do better, those are the things we are focusing on," said residency maintenance manager, David Cubbage.
Some of the improvements include:
- An increased number of contractors, all of whom have gone through state-of-the-art virtual training to simulate the same type of snow storms Central Virginia battled last year
- Each district has new equipment and will manage inventory through an online database that will help track how much compound is placed on the roadways and how many trucks are available for use
The improvements do not come without a cost, however. Hatter says VDOT is prepared to spend a little over $115 million statewide this winter.
"We will spend what it takes to get the job done because that's really our core mission is to get out there when the weather gets bad and when the roads need work. We are going to be out there for as long as it takes," said Hatter.
Last year's statewide budget was set at $80 million but the government ended up spending roughly $266 million. Regardless of the strain on the government's pocketbook, VDOT says it's willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done quickly and efficiently.