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Pennsylvania Department of Transportation explains the Science of Winter Road Treatments

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation explains the Science of Winter Road Treatments

Posted on December 27, 2022

PennDOT maintains nearly 40,000 miles of roads and 25,400 bridges statewide, which translates into nearly 91,800 snow-lane miles — enough to circle the globe nearly four times! To tackle this task, PennDOT uses 2,199 trucks, plows, and salt spreaders, operated by about 4,700 on-the-road workers. The department also rents about 452 trucks and hires temporary operators to assist with snow removal operations. Over the past five winters, PennDOT has used an average of 801,453 tons of salt to keep Pennsylvania drivers moving.

If winter does strike, PennDOT will have crews treating roadways around the clock, but the department's aim is to keep roads passable rather than completely free of ice and snow. However, PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear.

PennDOT plow operators use technology in their trucks to monitor air temperature and road temperature so they can tailor their road treatments on the go. The major factors that determine what material will be used on a roadway are temperature and traffic.

Because salt is most effective when traffic is crushing and spreading it on the road, the lower a road's traffic volume the more PennDOT will mix salt with anti-skid or other materials. Salt also isn't a silver bullet — it becomes less effective once temperatures dip below 23-25 degrees.

To read the full article about winter road treatments please click here

Motorists can check conditions on state-owned roadways, including color-coded winter conditions on 40,000 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic
cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.