Plow blades down! Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews ready for snow and ice season

Stocked inventory, well-trained crews, new initiatives cement Cabinet’s strategy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2016) – The plow blades have been sharpened. The salt domes are stocked. It’s snow and ice season, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) maintenance crews are prepared and ready to battle the elements to keep Kentuckians moving this winter.

The Cabinet’s mission for snow and ice removal is to keep traffic moving in a safe manner with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes, said Secretary Greg Thomas and State Highway Engineer Patty Dunaway.

“Snow and ice season is the Super Bowl of transportation,” Thomas said. “The Cabinet is committed to providing dependable service to the public, and we are prepared to respond to weather conditions that may affect travel.”

With a strategy reminiscent of combat, nearly 2,000 professional “snowfighters” and support staff have been briefed and trained on how to tackle snow and ice removal, and a statewide brigade of trucks and plows stands ready.

In Kentucky Department of Highways District 9, which fights snow in Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas and Rowan counties, nearly 200 crew members and support staff have been watching forecasts since October with 18,000 tons of salt and more than 70 snow plows and other equipment ready.

When snowy or icy weather hits, state highway crews in affected counties are assigned 12-hour shifts to plow and treat roads using a priority system based on the amount and nature of traffic within each individual county.

Priority A routes include major routes and those most heavily-traveled such as interstates, which receive the highest priority for snow-clearing efforts. Priority B routes include other important, but lesser-traveled state routes. Other roads are Priority C.

While it’s the Transportation Cabinet’s goal to treat all routes during a routine winter storm event, higher-priority routes are treated more frequently. Major storm events could see a more flexible snow-plowing strategy, with a focus on treating Priority A and critical routes.

In addition, The Cabinet has a new special teams strike force of eight retrofit snow plows housed in Frankfort for statewide deployment as needed in winter weather emergencies. The strike force is reserved for high-priority routes to ensure interstates remain open.

“We’ve sophisticated our strategy based on the unusually harsh winter hits Kentucky has seen in recent years that have impacted traffic on major roadways and interstates,” said Dunaway. “Our teams are ready to take on the snow and will work to maintain access on heavily travelled priority state routes.”

The Cabinet has also developed a new webpage for all snow and ice information. The public can visit to learn more about priority routes in their counties, access helpful winter weather tips and fact sheets, and view informational videos on salt application and snow removal.

Statewide inventory of materials and equipment:

The Cabinet is winter-ready, fully stocked with a supply of 431,200 tons of salt, 1.1 million gallons of salt brine and 1.1 million gallons of calcium chloride.

Statewide, the Cabinet has approximately 980 deployable trucks and plows among the 125 snow and ice frontline maintenance crews. Another 451 contracted trucks are available to assist in snow and ice operations.

Maintenance crews have prepared rosters and schedules, calibrated salting equipment, prepped plows, reviewed plowing strategies and completed safety training.

The Cabinet will efficiently manage equipment, salt supplies and other snow-fighting materials. Districts will actively look for opportunities to shift resources for sharing with other districts as needed, focusing on the statewide team goal of serving all Kentucky citizens.

Motorists and citizens should be prepared:

The following measures will help keep motorists safe and prepared:

– Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level

– Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stuck at home than to be stuck on the road

– Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment

– Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder

– Allow time for a slower commute

– Winterize vehicles

– Supply vehicles with blankets, flash light and an emergency supply kit

– Know before you go. Visit and download the free Waze app to check traffic conditions before you travel

– Eliminate distractions (e.g. using phone and eating) while driving

– Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash
Stocked inventory, well-trained crews, new initiatives cement Cabinet’s strategy