CHARLESTON, WV – Throughout the winter season, an informed public is vital to making the West Virginia Division of Highways' Snow Removal and Ice Control (SRIC) program a success, according to Highways Commissioner Byrd White. “A clear understanding of our operational procedures is beneficial to both the DOH and to the public,” White said.
According to White, during times of inclement weather, the primary goal of the DOH is to provide the traveling public with safe, passable routes.
Jimmy Wriston, Deputy State Highways Commissioner, indicated that advanced planning is critical to the effectiveness of the SRIC program and several factors are used to determine how resources are allotted. DOH personnel spend a considerable amount of time preparing for the winter season before the first flake of snow falls. Pre-winter SRIC plans for each of the 55 counties in the state are generated specifically for each district with ultimate approval through the Central Office in Charleston. These plans are tailored for fighting snow and ice based on the particular conditions affecting each district. Preparation also includes taking inventory of equipment and material, assigning tasks for crews and equipment and performing “dry runs” of the process.
The severity of a winter storm and the priority of the routes dictate SRIC operations. The State of West Virginia is responsible for maintaining approximately 35,000 miles of roadway, which makes prioritizing a necessity in the SRIC program. During a winter storm crews concentrate on “first priority” routes, which typically include interstates, Appalachian Corridors, and routes that connect urban centers. “The highway system and travel patterns vary in each county; therefore, it is necessary to prioritize based on each county’s needs,” said Wriston.
Along with route priority, the type of roadway surface also controls the type of treatment applied. Gravel roadways are treated with sand or cinders, whereas chemicals are applied to asphalt and concrete surfaces. The chemicals would damage a gravel or tar and chip roadway. “Also, during back-to-back storm events, crews are required to stay on priority one routes before plowing the secondary routes,” White reminded. “The result may be that persons living along secondary routes could see a delay of 24 to 48 hours before trucks can make it out to some areas.”
For further information, please contact your local WVDOH District Office. Road conditions are also available on the WV511 website or download the WV511 DriveSafe app.