The Georgia Department of Transportation is ready to battle winter weather on the roads; adding new tools to their arsenal and making adjustments to how they attack snow and ice.
In its sophomore year with their fleet, the tow-plow is lined up to make a big impact when the snow starts falling.
This monster of a plow sat unneeded last year, and with a little luck it will go unused again this winter.
"The cool thing about it is, it can plow two lanes of the interstate at one time," said Mark McKinnon of GDOT.
When in use, the tow-plow looks like a jackknifing semi. It was an odd sight that took a little getting used to from behind the wheel. "I wasn't used to seeing something come around the side of me and my truck is still going straight," said Adam Ferguson, one of a few drivers trained to operate the rig.
The two tow-plows in the fleet are capable of covering two lanes of traffic making them 25 feet wide when fully extended. This vulnerable position, makes them dangerous to be near when they are operating. "If you see this piece of equipment out on the interstate during snow and ice; stay away from it," said McKinnon.
But moving snow off the interstates is only one small part of the solution. With ice playing a much bigger role in travel woes in and around Atlanta, GDOT needed to come up with a solution. That solution could be salt brine.
Going back to basics, GDOT is looking to lower the freezing threshold for roads and bridges by coating them with the salt and water mixture.
But buying a salt brine making machine was out of the question. "We don't have a lot to play with for the everyday things we need January through December; for the pot holes, for the regular maintenance, for what we are currently doing in Georgia our budget is already stretched," said Natalie Dale with GDOT.
So they built their own from spare parts.
The mobile salt brine maker can pump out 2,000 gallons of brine at a time. "If you bought a brine maker that makes 2,000 gallons at a time like ours does, it would cost you over $25,000," said Teri Pope of GDOT.
As of Wednesday, 11 new locations across the state have full salt brine tanks waiting to be used. Those locations were added this year; placed near interstates so GDOT could access the salt and gravel that are also stored there. "It gives us the ability to not only be efficient with how we spread our salt, but also we are on site, we can do it quickly, we can focus it, and we can do it continuously," said Dale.
Other plans for combating winter weather include adjusting workers shifts, adding cell phones to every truck, and approximately 1,877 GDOT maintenance and construction employees will be available if an emergency does roll in.
"We are ready. We are ready and waiting," said Dale.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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