(February 4, 2010) Old Man Winter and Mother Nature are again conspiring to paint Maryland white with a coastal Noreaster with significant snow accumulations beginning Friday morning, continuing through Friday night and into Saturday. With weather forecasts calling for snow accumulations exceeding 12 inches and up to 20 inches for central and western regions, the men and women at the State Highway Administration (SHA) are preparing for battle. Employees are repairing vehicles, replenishing supplies, securing plow blades, fueling up trucks and loading salt. Additionally, crews today are spraying salt brine on highways, particularly bridges and ramps, to prevent ice from bonding to the surface.
SHA has 266,000 tons of salt across the state and nearly 2,200 pieces of equipment and 2,400 people available to respond to the storm. Officials will monitor the storm from SHAs Statewide Operations Center in Hanover where it has centralized communications and access to over 150 traffic cameras located around the state.
For the latest weather and road conditions and to view live traffic cameras during the storm, citizens can log onto http://roads.maryland.gov/ and click on CHART. Customers may also follow SHA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mdsha or call the Winter Storm hotline at 1-800-327-3125 for a regularly updated message with weather and roadway conditions. If you need to report a non-emergency issue for SHA, log onto the website and click on the Service Request link from the Contact Us page.
Safety comes first at SHA so we will continue to plow and salt from the first flake falling until the storm is long gone and we get every lane clear, said Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. The best advice if you do have to be out in the storm is to slow down and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles because you never know what may happen if other motorists lose control.
Citizens are asked to remember that each team of SHA crews and contractors is assigned to plow and salt 20-25 mile routes along interstate, US and MD/State numbered routes. It can take a plow driver up to 1.5 hours to complete a route, including reloading salt. During a storm, it may appear that a route has not been plowed or treated with salt, but instead it is merely recoated due to the heavy rate of snowfall. Motorists should never pass a snow plow or plow train. Snow plows and plow trains (multiple snow plows in tandem) require a large area to operate safely. Motorists should remember that the untreated roadway is ahead of the plows, the safer roadway is behind them.
To date, SHAs 2009/2010 winter expenditures are approximately $50 million. Clearing snow and maintaining the safety of state roads remains a top priority. Budget adjustments within SHA and the Department of Transportation will be made to cover the increasing cost of snow removal.