Bring out the plowsPublished 7:52pm Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Classes were cancelled at area schools, and many county residents have hunkered down to wait out the cold.
There’s one group of people that doesn’t have that luxury, however — the ones behind the wheels of the spreaders and plows, working in shifts to keep Beaufort County roads clear for drivers.
“We have all our spreaders and plows on and we’re ready to go,” said Robby Taylor, NCDOT’s Beaufort County road maintenance engineer, Tuesday afternoon.
DOT workers showed up Tuesday night to battle the forecasted 1 to 2 inches of snow expected to accumulate. Taylor said the crews would work through the night plowing and spreading rock salt and, depending how much snow is on the roads, may still be at it today.
“Staring off at 7 p.m., that would give us seven trucks on the roads with spreaders and plows and we’ll add to that if needed. … We’ll man it for 24-hours until we take care of it,” Taylor said. “We’ll do two shifts and do it again, if need be.”
Taylor said DOT has a two-tiered system: primary roads — U.S. and N.C. roads — get first clearance from “white line to white line;” then the trucks will move out into the county on secondary roads.
“Normally, we would brine, but since we’re talking of rain, we elected not to put the brine out and go with straight rock salt,” Taylor explained. “Each event is kind of different. You have to tweak it here and there.”
Each of the seven trucks will spread rock salt at a rate of 250 pounds per land mile over the approximately 200 miles of primary roads in Beaufort County.
With temperatures expected to drop into the 20s overnight, and wind chill in the single digits, officials are warning residents of hazardous driving conditions. The state DOT office has these recommendations for those opting to drive today: clear windows and mirrors; reduce speed and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles; approach bridges and overpasses with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on a bridge unless necessary — because bridges really do ice before roads.
“People need to take the same precautions they did the last time we had this cold snap,” said Lisa Respess, emergency services technician with Beaufort County Emergency Management.
During the last cold spell early this month, heat lamps in garages are suspected to have caused two Beaufort County residential fires.