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Preps underway for possible snow

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Preparations are underway throughout Pulaski County for the possibility of the first significant snowfall of the season Thursday.

In the town of Pulaski, Kim Caudill said public works employees have all six trucks loaded with salt and ready to hit the roads when, and if, bad weather arrives. She said the 350 tons of salt on hand should be enough to get the town through the predicted storm.

“We’ve never run out before and we’ve been through some pretty rough storms,” said Caudill, who is administrative manager for Pulaski Public Works. She said the department also has some salt left over from prior snows.

The salt is stored in a new facility town employees constructed to replace an old one that was leveled by the 2010 tornado.

Just how quick trucks get to your street will depend upon the intensity of the storm and whether the street is in the primary or secondary system. Of course, primary roads, such as Routes 11 and 99, are treated and scraped first.

If snow is falling so heavily crews are having difficulty keeping the primary roads clear, Caudill said they will focus on the primary roads until the precipitation slows enough to be controlled or stops altogether, then move to the secondary system.

In Dublin, the plan is the same: primary roads first, and secondary as soon as possible.

David Nester, assistant superintendent of Dublin Public Works, said the town has three trucks, two backhoes and six employees ready to clear the roads if snow arrives.

Dublin employees are responsible for clearing the roads in town and they also handle a few outside the town limits for Virginia Department of Transportation.

Nester said Dublin obtains its salt from VDOT.

Due to changes in protocol, local VDOT officials were not available to comment on local preparations. However, a statewide news release issued at the beginning of the winter season indicates the agency’s statewide budget for snow removal for the 2012-13 season is $145 million. Of that, the Salem District, which includes Pulaski County, has $15,900,560 budgeted.

VDOT has 2,424 pieces of state equipment, approximately 7,144 pieces of hired equipment and 818 pieces of interstate contractor equipment available for snow- and ice-control activities statewide this winter. Hired equipment includes both companies and individuals and their equipment that VDOT keeps on call to clear snow.

“Motorists depend on VDOT to deploy the necessary personnel, equipment, materials and technology to keep traffic moving as soon as possible after inclement weather impedes a roadway,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.

VDOT advises motorists to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions during the winter. Have a plan. Most importantly, be where you need to be before the weather gets bad.

To avoid accidents during winter storms, VDOT always suggests delaying travel when possible. And if you see a slow-moving snowplow or other vehicles treating roads, please slow down and give the operators the right of way for both their safety and yours.

Before traveling, get the latest traffic conditions by calling 511, or go to  HYPERLINK “http://www.511virginia.org” www.511virginia.org. You can also download the free 511 mobile app at  HYPERLINK “http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp” \l “app” http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app

Last winter, the weather was so mild only $63.8 million was spent on preparation, anti-icing and snow removal. During 2010-11, that figure was $207.9 million and a year earlier, $266.8 million.

Caudill said last winter was so mild the town of Pulaski didn’t use any salt on roads.