Shannon N. Marshall 804-371-6844
Marshall M. Herman 804-371-6844, 804-652-9689
Oct. 27, 2014
VDOT’S WINTER BUDGET, EQUIPMENT IN PLACE
Agency Estimates $145.5 Million Available for Statewide Snow Removal
RICHMOND, Va. – Ready for winter again this year? The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is. VDOT has its initial budgets, materials, equipment and staffing in place across the state in preparation for whatever this year’s weather brings to keep your roads clear. Last winter proved that weather patterns pay no attention to the calendar, with snow on the ground in various parts of the state from late October into early April.
VDOT’s estimated snow-removal budget is $145.5 million for the winter of 2014-2015. The snow-removal budget is part of VDOT’s overall FY 2015 maintenance budget of approximately $1.5 billion.
“Maintaining roads – no matter what the weather brings – is VDOT’s number-one job,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “On the front lines clearing snow, in control rooms managing traffic flow, in the districts reporting conditions to the public or elsewhere allocating necessary resources – our employees train year-round to keep you moving. We ask you to slow down and give our equipment operators plenty of room to do their job on the road, which is primarily to get you where you need to be – safely.”
VDOT snow-removal budget, equipment, materials
The snow-removal budget covers all materials, staff and contractor time. Here’s a breakdown by each VDOT district:
Last winter, VDOT’s preseason snow-removal budget for 2013-2014 was $157 million, a figure based on the average expenditures from the previous five winters. The agency spent approximately $350 million by the end of the season.
Materials and supplies in stock for the 2014-2015 season for snow and ice removal include:
- 366,678 tons of salt,
- 122,766 tons of sand,
- 60,850 tons of treated abrasives,
- 564,405 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, and
- 1.1 million gallons of salt brine.
VDOT replenishes supplies as they are used throughout the winter.
What’s new: Recycling runoff into brine
When VDOT loads salt onto snow-removal trucks on a paved area – called a “mixing pad” – at its salt-storage facilities, the runoff is directed either to impermeable ponds or underground tanks, since the mixing pad is normally wet during the loading process due to water or snow.
To manage such runoff during the salt-loading process, VDOT is reusing some of this water from the ponds or tanks to produce brine, a solution of salt and water, to turn an environmental challenge – disposing of that runoff – into a supply opportunity.
In the past few years, VDOT has relied more and more on applying brine to roads in areas where feasible before winter storms. This is because it can prevent frozen precipitation from bonding to the pavement, and it’s more environmentally friendly than salt.
As part of a multi-year pilot, most salt facilities in VDOT’s Richmond District now recycle this runoff into brine. The water in the holding ponds doesn’t evaporate quickly, and offsite disposal that meets environmental standards is often quite costly, averaging 46 cents per gallon in some areas. The Richmond District used approximately 550,000 gallons of brine last winter, most of which came from runoff processed from its holding ponds.
VDOT is looking to increase the number of locations where such recycling would be feasible and cost effective. In-house research has determined that VDOT could reduce the volume of water requiring disposal by at least 50 percent. The research also concluded that, based on average statewide pre-wetting and brine applications before winter storms, more than 20 million gallons of such runoff could be reused around Virginia.
Ongoing: Online snowplow tracker in Northern Virginia
For the past three years, VDOT has activated an online neighborhood tracking map that monitors the status of plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods when it snows two inches or more.
You can access the snowplow tracker at http://www.vdotplows.org/.
A video on how to use the website is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMRaItZLgyo&feature=youtu.be.
When snow or ice is predicted, VDOT crews pretreat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine and liquid calcium chloride.
As part of a pilot to reduce costs, VDOT’s Northern Virginia District will only apply a brine mix in part of Chantilly, in lieu of any road salt, to determine if this is a viable alternative to applying salt after plowing.
- VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends.
Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multiday storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.
VDOT maintains all roads in Virginia, except those in incorporated cities and in Arlington and Henrico counties.
Have a plan before you drive
VDOT advises motorists to have a winter driving plan and to get where you need to be ahead of the bad weather. Visit www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/winter for more winter-weather preparedness tips from VDEM.
To avoid accidents during winter storms, VDOT always suggests delaying travel when possible. If you see a slow-moving snowplow or other vehicles treating roads, slow down and give the operators the right of way for their safety and yours.
Before traveling, you can get the latest traffic conditions by calling 511, or go to www.511virginia.org. You also can download Virginia’s free 511 mobile app at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app.
Additional Winter-Weather Information Sources
The following fact sheets on VDOT’s website contain more detailed information about tips for safe winter-weather driving and the agency’s snow-removal policies, budget and equipment:
- Snow-removal preparations, procedures – VDOT’s road-clearing priorities
- Estimated snow-removal budget, 2014-2015
- Available equipment by VDOT district, 2014-2015
- VDOT equipment and supplies, winter 2014-2015
- How VDOT keeps roads clear in winter – explains the processes used
- Winter weather tools for clearing roads – materials VDOT uses
- 511 and www.511virginia.org
Call 511 or use the 511 website for real-time updates on Virginia road conditions and traffic incidents.
- 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623)
Report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center by calling this statewide toll-free number.
“Like” www.facebook.com/virginiadot to learn more about VDOT news and programs, and to receive updates.
Visit VDOT’s YouTube site (www.youtube.com/vdotweb) for videos on snow removal.
- VDOT’s website
For more winter driving information, please visit http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp.
Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.