High Country Roads Winter 2016-17 Preparations

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With the coldest temperatures of the season getting ready to settle into the High Country it’s a solid reminder that winter is just about upon us.

Local DOT and road officials that oversee winter snow removal are once again ready for Old Man Winter. Not only are these experienced officials on top of what could happen each winter, the material and crews are ready to go too.

Watauga County

Recently the Watauga NCDOT office conducted their annual “Snow Day” for DOT employees and DOT contractors.

15 NCDOT trucks and 12 contracted trucks will take on the task of keeping roads as clear as possible this winter. All 27 trucks have inbox spreaders and snow plows, and if conditions call for it then 4 motor-graders, 1 snow blower, 2 front end loaders and 3 push trucks are also available.

Crews begin clearing and treatment operations on “bare pavement routes” first. These routes are the main highways in the county that carries the volume of traffic.

Bare pavement Map: NCDOT.  Click on map to view full scale *open in a new window* 
Bare Pavement Routes

In 2014 three new bare pavement routes were added for the 2014-15 winter. They were: Candy Lane, George Triplett Road and the paved portion of Silverleaf Road in Zionville. For 2016-17 there are no new bare pavement routes added.

A big concern for the 2014-15 winter season was the shorter supply of salt, due to an increase in snow and ice storms in non mountain counties that created a much higher demand. Because of the mostly milder winter in 2015-16 salts supplies were not an issue.  Kevin Whittington, DOT Maintenance Engineer for Watauga County, tells WataugaOnline.com for the 2016-17 winter season short supplies will not be an issue. Between 400-500 tons of salt is used in Watauga County in a 24 hour period when conditions warrant. Watauga DOT has 4,300 tons of salt in inventory.

Boone

In Boone beets will once again help beat winter road issues, at least in part.

For the fifth winter season in a row beet juice will expand the efforts to keep streets treated for motorist. The beet juice is bought in loads of 4,500 gallons and will be mixed with salt brine at a 70/30 brine to juice ratio. Using the mixture allows melting as snow falls, and gives Town of Boone crews more time to get on their routes to apply the dry salt and slag.

Beet juice with salt brine can be applied at about half the rate of salt brine by itself. Salt brine alone is applied at 40-60 gallons per mile, however using the 70/30 blend it can be applied at 20-30 gallons per mile. Salt brine will melt down to 10 degrees but the beet juice added will melt down to -20 degrees.

Another big advantage is the beet juice mix will stay on the road up to 72 hours after application compared to 24 to 48 hours for the salt brine. With the beet juice mix the corrosion factor also lowers by 76%. The main culprit in corrosion is caused by the dust off just the brine mix when it dries.

Again this winter season Boone will be pre-wetting the dry salt and slag, with the juice, to help keep the dry material to stay on the pavement. By applying dry material by itself the loss is almost 40% to bouncing off pavement to the shoulder of the road. Eric Gustaveson, Deputy Public Works Director for Boone, says that crews will pre-wet loads at a rate of 10 gallons of brine per ton of salt to help prevent bounce and splatter and start activation.

Boone began using beet juice for the first time in the winter of 2011 and was one of the first towns in North Carolina to do so.

Gustaveson also tells WataugaOnline.com that the town has close to 1000 tons of salt in storage and a purchase order for an additional 1000 tons if needed. 200 tons of slag (a very fine gravel material) is on hand and 2,000 more tons is on order as or if needed. Public Works mixes salt to slag, 2 parts slag to 1 part salt, and makes brine as needed out of the salt they have.

The Boone Public Works Department maintains 43 miles of road, or 86 lane miles, using:

(5) 4×4 snow plows
(2) one ton snow plows
(1) Motor Grader
(4) small tractors for sidewalks
other various equipment, loaders, backhoes if needed.

Below is a breakdown of winter weather equipment and supplies each county throughout Division 11 has available, as well as the number of miles of roads each is responsible for clearing. Information provided by NCDOT.

Alleghany

– 455 miles

– 16 NCDOT plows, 1 contract plow

– 4 NCDOT motor graders, 3 contract motor graders

– 800 tons of salt stored

Ashe

– 805 miles

– 17 NCDOT plows, 9 contract plows

– 7 NCDOT motor graders, 7 contract motor graders

– 2,500 tons of salt stored

Avery

– 337 miles

– 13 NCDOT plows, 8 contract plows

– 5 motor graders, 2 contract motor graders

– 6,000 tons of salt stored

Caldwell

– 692 miles

– 13 NCDOT plows, 10 contract plows

– 2 motor graders, 7 motor graders

– 1,950 tons of salt available

Surry

– 1,138 miles

– 34 NCDOT plows, 14 contract trucks

– 5 NCDOT motor graders

– 2,200 tons of salt

Watauga

– 573 miles

– 20 NCDOT plows, 12 contract plows

– 4 NCDOT motor graders, 2 contract grader

– 6,000 tons of salt stored

Wilkes

– 1,329 miles

– 44 NCDOT plows, 7 contract plows

– 8 NCDOT motor graders, 9 contract grader

– 1,800 tons of salt stored

Yadkin

– 714 miles

– 16 NCDOT plows, 8 contract plows

– 3 NCDOT motor graders, 6 contract grader

– 800 tons of salt stored

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