Contributed by Over the Fence Post
A new neighborhood-plowing URL, a jet-powered snow melter, and a truck-mounted camera pilot are among tools the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will use this winter in northern Virginia. Each piece of technology and equipment utilized aims to help crews clear roads faster and more efficiently, and enables VDOT to provide more real-time information to the public on their operations and progress during storms.
VDOT is responsible for 17,737 lane miles in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties (Arlington County maintains its own secondary roads). About half of those miles are highways, and half are neighborhood streets.
Last winter’s budget for northern Virginia was $55 million and $48 million was spent. This year’s budget is $63 million.
Some highlights for Winter 2013-14:
- VDOT’s web tool has a new URL: www.vdotplows.org. The page continues to be improved to show the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods. Once it snows more than two inches, residents in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties can enter their address and a color-coded snow map shows whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood.
- This year, crews will also test six all-weather truck-mounted cameras. Located on the rear of the cab, the camera will snap photos every few seconds en route to provide information on road conditions as well as whether and when a road was plowed.
- Equipment: More than 4,000 contracted and 126 VDOT trucks and plows are all equipped with automatic vehicle locator (AVL) equipment this year. Some equipment for special uses in Northern Virginia include:
- A new jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where massive snow piles block spaces.
- Seven high-pressure flush trucks to clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.
- A truck-mounted weather station that provides mobile measurements on road conditions (dry, moist, wet, snow, ice), as well as surface, dew point and air temperature, humidity and thickness of ice. This helps ensure that crews do not over- or under-apply chemicals.
- Four super-sized front loaders that plow interstates with 20 -foot wide blades during severe storms.
- Speed-activated anti-icing equipment to put the right amount of material on the road.
- A super-sized salt dome holding 22,000 tons – about three times the capacity of a typical dome – was completed at the Beltway and Van Dorn Street last winter to help ensure that crews don’t run low on materials during severe storms.
- Pre-treating: Crews will pre-treat 850 lane miles of trouble spots including:
350 lane miles on interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.
500 lane miles on major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.
As the pre-treatment program is expanded, the need for salt to melt ice is reduced. Brine (77 percent water and 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, is kinder to theenvironment and less costly.
VDOT’s winter resources
- See the status of plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods: www.vdotplows.org
- Follow @vadotnova on Twitter, and for real-time traffic updates, follow @511northernva, use the 511 app or visit www.511virginia.org
- Report unplowed roads or hazardous conditions to [email protected] or 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623)
- For general snow removal information: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp
- Follow VDOT at www.facebook.com/VirginiaDOT, on Twitter @VDOT, and visit www.VirginiaDOT.org
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