NCDOT prepped and ready to roll for winter weather in Polk

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

POLK COUNTY—With winter fast approaching and snow falling along the Blue Ridge Parkway this week, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is gearing up to combat winter conditions. Due to El Nina, heavier precipitation is predicted this year, which may result in more ice and snow this winter. 

Polk County Maintenance Engineer Ben Williams outlined the preparation and plans that the NCDOT has in place in case of a weather emergency on Tuesday morning. Crews are loading salt, sand and brine onto their trucks equipped with snow plows and running dry runs to test their vehicles and equipment.

“We’ll make sure our spreaders are calibrated to put down the correct rate,” said Williams. “The dry runs help us determine if any repairs need to be made.” 

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Before icy conditions arrive, the crews will conduct equipment checks and drive some roads requiring attention. This prep work can make all the difference in keeping roads as safe as possible. A fully equipped crew is also kept in Saluda to cover the county and interstate more efficiently. The NCDOT is responsible for 460 miles of road in Polk County and 8,000 miles total in the state.

“We will be checking the spreaders and plows this week to make sure they fit properly because those are equipment that we only use during winter weather events,” Williams added. “The spreaders and plows are very specific to winter weather, so we have to make sure that those are in good condition.” 

Polk County Maintenance Engineer Ben Williams led the NCDOT snow prep media day at the DOT’s Columbus yard. (Photo by Storme Smith)

In addition to traditional training methods, NCDOT employees are also taking advantage of new technology by using a driving simulator. The simulator can simulate up to 200 vehicles and allows employees to choose from the ones their county has in inventory. The goal of the simulator is to create different real-life scenarios for DOT drivers, such as plowing heavy snow and driving on ice-covered roads. 

Williams also asks drivers to watch out for NC DOT maintenance crews when they’re working in the elements. Drivers are asked to be patient, slow down and give room in bad weather for the safety of all on the road.

“Give the truck as much room as possible,” he said. “Our job is to clear the road. So expect snow to be going to the right or the left. And you know, please just give the truck space and be patient behind the truck. And we’ll see through that that the road’s getting clear.” 

For more information or detailed safety tips, visit ncdot.gov and search “winter weather.”