While individual Iowans are stocking up for what could be the biggest snowfall of the winter, the Iowa Department of Transportation’s winter pantry is nearly full. The D-O-T’s Dennis Burkheimer says they really didn’t have to dip much into their stocks of sand and salt until this past weekend’s ice storms. So as this storm approaches, it’s just a matter of waiting. He says they’re trying to keep an eye on the forecasts to see where there’ll be freezing rain or snow and trying to plan accordingly. Burkheimer would rather see snowflakes than freezing rain. He says ice is by far the worst one to deal with as it’s very difficult for the de-icing chemicals to penetrate the ice. And he says the combination of ice and snow can be “treacherous” to deal with. Burkheimer says today they’ve been trying to let the snowplower operaters get whatever rest they can to be ready. He says they’re going to be required to work 12 hour shifts — some he says may’ve already been on those shifts — and he says they’ll call in temporary part-time people in the areas where they’re needed. Forecasts are calling for between four and 12 inches of snow, depending on the area of the state. Burkheimer says once the white stuff starts falling, it’s up to his local managers to determine if crews stay on the roads. He says most of the time that’s dependent on visibility. He says if it’s extremely windy and there’s lots of blowing and drifting and they don’t appear to be making progress, then they’ll pull the trucks in. He says if there are normal conditions, they’ll keep working 24-hours-a-day until they get the highways cleared. Burkheimer asks motorists to keep an eye out for the plows and give them a wide berth to avoid any problems. He says the operators are very concerned about making sure the roadways are safe and know they have a lot of responsability on their shoulders, and will work hard to get the roads cleaned as soon as they possibly can. Burkheimer says they have some 900 trucks equiped to fit the snow — although they all might not be out on the road at the same time depending on the region of the state.
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