It’s been sunny and relatively warm with temperatures in the 60s and 70s this week, but Iowa Department of Transportation employees are busy preparing for winter. “In our world, October 15th is actually the official start of the winter season and that runs through April 15th,” Craig Bargfrede said. He’s the DOT’s winter operations administrator.
The DOT’s 900 plows and other snow-moving equipment are being brought out of storage for tuneups and maintenance. “Making sure everything is functioning properly on the trucks, plows, blowers – we’re in the process of doing calibration on all of our spreaders to make sure the material is being dispensed properly and accurately across the board,” Bargfrede said.
Over the summer, the Iowa DOT stocked storage facilities with nearly 230,000 tons of salt to use on roads this winter. “Our annual usage has been somewhere around 140,000-to-150,000 tons,” Bargfrede said. “So, if we would have a normal winter season, we have enough salt today to cover our requirement.”
In the coming weeks, even when it’s sunny and dry, Iowans may see DOT trucks spraying brine on roads and bridges. Bargfrede calls it a “proactive approach.” Spraying brine on areas prone to frost prevents the formation of an icy layer, which typically occurs on cold, clear nights.