State Road Crews Prepare Roads For Snow, Ice

Wednesday, December 4th 2013, 5:12 pm
By: Craig Day

State road crews are getting ready for the winter weather. Troopers say even though people have plenty of warning from forecasters, the first major winter storm always seems to catch drivers off guard.

With 660 turnpike miles to cover in the state, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has plenty of materials, manpower, and a machine called the "beast" ready to go.

It's been a while since Oklahoma drivers have had to face treacherous conditions like this, but before long, state roads could be covered in ice and snow.

"It's going to be a difficult situation for us to deal with," said Lt. Brian Orr, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Orr said OHP will be out in force, with special service troops, like drug interdiction troops, size and weight units and lake patrol troopers ready, if needed.

He's stressing that drivers should use caution.

12/4/2013 Related Story: Winter Storm Warning Issued For Eastern Oklahoma

"Anytime you've got a storm about to come in like this, you want people to plan in advance. If they have to get out, have that extra time planned. Keep plenty of distance between you and the other vehicles in front of you, and obviously your speed--slow down," Orr said.

The turnpike authority has more than 200 turnpike workers and private contractors ready to clear roads.

"I've got enough guys to run 24 hours a day, 12 hour shifts," said maintenance superintendent Steve Allen.

Those crews have 15,000 tons of sand, 55,000 tons of salt, and 90,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride ready for the turnpikes. The liquid helps to prevent ice from bonding and allows plows to clear roads more efficiently.

"If we can wet that salt before it hits the snow, it will melt and then break everything up on the roadway," Allen said.

And new tow plows on the Turner and Will Rogers turnpikes will help to clear turnpikes much faster.

"I-44, all the way down from the Missouri state line to Wichita Falls, is a major corridor for commercial traffic, so we think it's imperative that we clear that road as soon as possible," said Jack Damrill, with the OTA.

State troopers say, if you do drive, have blankets, water, and a fully charged cell phone with you.

You can contact the highway patrol at *55.