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MDOT crews ready for snow storm hitting this week

Posted at 7:40 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-24 09:48:23-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — It’s set to be the biggest snow of the season so far for viewers in our southern counties. Some of them could see more than half a foot in the next few days.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says it’s ready to clear the roads.

A few weeks ago drivers around Kalamazoo got a taste of winter weather when snow and ice hit southern Michigan. They dealt with minor traffic crashes and slide-offs, and some even had to be towed.

“You know, we’ve been doing this for the better part of a century, and snow falls on the roads and we plow it off,” said MDOT Spokesman Nick Schirripa.

He’s paying attention to local weather forecasts as plow drivers gear up for what’s to come.

“All our operators are trained and kinda geared up and ready to go. We really had a mild winter thus far, so, it’s ‘go time,’ right?”

MDOT has more than 80 plows in the seven-county region around Kalamazoo ready to go.

“They are all hands on deck; they are ready to go as they have been since late October, early November. We’ve been fully staffed and just been kinda waiting for winter to get here,” said Schirripa.

There are 3,300 lane miles to clear once the snow starts falling. Some drivers will focus on plowing and laying salt, making it safer for drivers. Others will put down brine where it’s needed before the storm.

“In some areas it’s nice and dry, and we can do some pre-treating when it’s dry; if it’s wet, it just washes away. So, if we get some trouble spots that we know tend to be trouble, and the temperatures are dropping fast enough, we’ll do pre-treating on dry roads because it just helps us stay ahead of it,” he said.

Michigan drivers are used to the snow, but we’ve only seen about a third of the amount this season that we had last year at this time. Either way, MDOT crews are ready with more than 30,000 tons of salt on standby.

“We may not love the first snow, but it’s a big deal; we get excited for it. We gotta remember how to drive in it. For plow drivers it’s a huge deal. This is the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for them, and they really want to get out there and make us proud and show everybody what they can do.”

Nick tells me since there hasn’t been much snow, crews have been working on other projects like tree trimming, guardrail and sign repairs, and patching potholes.

READ MORE: Help MDOT name hundreds of snowplows this winter season

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