UDOT Prepares For Winter Road Conditions Ahead Of Storm

Oct 28, 2019, 6:08 PM | Updated: 11:07 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The drop in temperatures over the past 48 hours has sent a chill down the spine of most residents — including snowplow crews.

And by Tuesday morning, they expect to be plowing the first snowstorm of the 2019-20 season.

It was a long winter season a year ago, and it’s starting even earlier this year.

“It feels a little early to be talking like this. But, we’re getting ready. We’re getting ready for snow,” said John Gleason, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Bobby Hall, a UDOT maintenance shed supervisor at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center, said gearing up for snow in October tempers the excitement, but most of the plow drivers love the job.

“Snow is our main priority here, that’s our main job,” Hall said. “So, everybody gets pretty excited for snow.”

Earlier Monday, plow drivers filled their trucks with salt so they don’t have to take time to do that around 3 a.m. Tuesday, when they expect the storm to start causing trouble on the roads of northern Utah.

“We’ll probably come in around 3 o’clock in the morning, and get ready for the storm,” Hall said. ”If it’s snowing, will be putting salt out, plowing.”

UDOT has already stocked up on 800 tons of road salt at this shed, which will be replenished 10 times this winter, if snowfall is average. That is only one of many such sheds on the Wasatch Front.

“This is a big day because we are stockpiling all of the salt, making sure that we have enough to get through this storm and many more that could be in the foreseeable future,” said Gleason.

A year ago, during a very snowy winter, UDOT plow crews set several records: They put in more hours plowing snow — 250,000 — and spread more salt — 205,000 tons — than ever before.

Last season, UDOT spent a total of $31 million on snow removal — $9 million on salt alone, leaving the agency $7 million in the hole, forcing it to deplete its emergency fund.

“Our plow crews will be out in force just making sure that we make the roads as safe as possible. But, it’s a good reminder to slow down and prepare for those icy patches,” said Gleason.

Commuters are being advised to plan ahead for Tuesday’s commute: slow down, be patient and steer clear of the plows. Stay behind at least 200 feet, and do not pass. The plows only drive 30 mph, but they can kick up debris and obstacles that can damage or disable cars.


Last year, UDOT spent $31 million on snow removal. (Courtesy Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

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UDOT Prepares For Winter Road Conditions Ahead Of Storm