Craig Bargfrede, the Iowa DOT’s winter operations administrator, says they’re well aware of the predictions calling for 12-to-18 inches of snow and the Blizzard Warning for two-dozen Iowa counties.
“The garages are out, making sure all of the trucks are operational, doing any last-minute maintenance, making sure the trucks are loaded with materials,” Bargfrede says. “We’re watching the forecast and determining the timing of when we’ll start treating.” The department has enormous storage barns scattered across the state which contain a collective stockpile of some 200-thousand tons of salt, sand and other priority supplies.
“We are at about 100% of capacity across the board,” Bargfrede says, “so availability of materials is not an issue for us.” As the wintery conditions change, crews may switch from spreading a brine solution on the roads to using more rock salt.
“We have been limiting the use of sand due to a number of issues,” Bargfrede says, “however, if conditions are such that we need to get friction out on the road, we use what we call a 50-50 mix, which is 50% sand, 50% salt.” The DOT has some 1,400 full-time and seasonal employees statewide and he’s confident they have the equipment and the staff to tackle this latest blizzard.
“At this point in time, yes,” Bargfrede says. “We’ll be able to handle and shift around the resources to meet the needs.” The agency has more than 900 snow plow-trucks that are used to clear 24,000 miles of Iowa roads.