UDOT Calls Over 500 Snowplows Into Action
MILLCREEK, Utah – The Utah Department of Transportation has 550 snowplows across the state and if a plow wasn’t in the shop Monday, it was pushing snow on the roads.
However, the flurries kept falling and plows struggled to keep up with the accumulating snow, especially Monday morning.
“I’ve been here since midnight,“ said Darren Jones, who drives a snowplow for UDOT on Interstate 15.
Drivers on I-15 Monday might have crossed paths with Jones, who was plowing laps from Salt Lake County into Davis County all day long.
“This has kind of been one of the heavier days,” Jones said. “It’s been kind of light, until today.”
As the snow intensified before dawn, conditions deteriorated on the roads. The number of slide-offs and crashes increased quickly.
“It came in with a vengeance right after one o’clock,” said Bob Giolas, UDOT maintenance supervisor for the crew that plows I-15 in Salt Lake County.
The night shift came in at midnight and plowed until 1 p.m., he said. They were resting at home before starting again at 8 p.m. The dayshift came in at 4 a.m. and worked until 8 p.m.
“All hands on deck, as much as we can,” Giolas said.
Three factors made it tough for the plows to keep up with the snow, he said. First of all, this was the coldest storm Utah has seen this winter, with temperatures in the teens Monday morning.
Giolas said the salt just doesn’t work as well in the frigid weather.
“It’s just icing up real quick,” he said. “Thankfully, we do have material underneath it to help. But, it’s really cold and it’s just covering too quick.“
Second, snow was coming down at a rate of one to two inches an hour before sunrise, and the main routes for the plows are on a one hour loop.
“By the time we go back to hit it again, it’s already covered up again,” Giolas said.
Third, the wind has blown a lot of snow right back on the roads.
“Today’s been a little hectic: a lot of snow and wind blowing,” Jones said. “I thought a lot of people didn’t get the message to stay home.”
UDOT said the plows will be out here until the end of the storm and until drivers can see pavement on all state roads.
“We’re going to be here all night cleaning it up,” Giolas said.
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