Road crews prepare for possible winter weather

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Region 8 road crews Tuesday spent the day preparing vehicles for a possible busy night in the frigid air.

According to forecasts, a thin layer of ice could cover cars and roads when residents wake up Wednesday morning. Walter McMillan with the Arkansas Highway Department said crews have been installing heavy equipment ahead of the storm.

"We cover total mileage of state highways is about 1,770 miles," said McMillan. "We started preparing the week of Thanksgiving. There was a prediction of a slight chance for some wintry weather that week."

McMillan said trucks have been filled with a mixture of sand, salt and magnesium chloride, which could help melt any ice that falls on roads overnight.

"That keeps it from sticking to the roadway, so you can plow it off. Something like spraying Pam on your skillet. It's kind of the same principle," said McMillan.

McMillan said road crews target bridges and overpasses first, then heavy intersections before moving on to other roadways.

"When you get to the secondary roads, which is usually the lower priority road, and if it's ice, it's awfully hard to get through that," said McMillan.

McMillan said if crews are out for a 24 hour period, then the estimated cost for the highway department would be $100,000, although that's not expected Wednesday.

"Last year in the two snow storms that we had, we spent about $700,000 total on snowing out and were out for about six days," said McMillan.

Dale Johns, Equipment Maintenance Supervisor for the Arkansas Highway Department, said Tuesday ten crews will take out about 40 trucks, equipped with snow plows and the melting aggregate if weather circumstances require it.

"We've been prepping our equipment, getting ready for a night like tonight," said Johns. "Bridges and overpasses will freeze up first. Anything the air can get under, they'll freeze up first and start getting slick."

"We don't shoot every mile of highway. That's impossible. We plow it. It's just hot spots," said Johns. "It's probably one night and then it'll melt off on us, hopefully the next day."

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