Road maintenance crews around the state are preparing for another season of ice and snow. Annette Dunn is the director of winter operations for the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We have stockpiled approximately 210,000 tons of salt and we are preparing our brine, which is made of salt and water, to place on roadways to help our salt stay on the roads and not be scattered off,” Dunn said.

The Iowa DOT has 110 maintenance garages around the state. Nearly 1,200 D.O.T. equipment operators, mechanics and supervisors are employed to maintain more than 9,400 miles of highways and interstates. Dunn says they utilize 900 trucks, 53 motor graders and 11 heavy-duty, self-propelled snow blowers throughout the winter.

Earlier this year, the D.O.T. purchased three tow plows. The machines – to be used in Des Moines, Waterloo and Sioux City – are pulled behind a plow truck to clear two lanes of snow in one pass. Dunn says the D.O.T. learned a few lessons from last year, which was the 6th snowiest winter in Iowa history.

“Last winter was quite the challenge,” Dunn said. “I think we just need to stay ahead of the game, keep our stockpiles up and continue to look at our efficiencies and technologies we can use throughout the state.” The first official day of winter is December 21.