Frederick County Highway Crews Ready For Winter

Equipment and supplies are in place for the first snow fall.

Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Department of Highway Operations is ready for any winter precipitation. The agency says sit has 91 pieces of  equipment ready for the snow and ice, and as well as adequate supplies. “We have our salt barns stocked. We have 24,000 tons of salt on hand, and 67,000 gallons of salt brine ready to go,” says Mike Ramsburg, Superintendent of Highway Operations.

Salt brine is a combination of salt and water, and is used to treat the roads before winter precipitation hits. The chemical prevent the ice from sticking to the roads. Ramsburg says it’s usually not applied if there’s rain proceeding the snow because the salt brine will wash off before it can be effective.

But he says the Department has a 20% shortage of snow plow drivers,  which is part of a nationwide trend. “Not just snow plow drivers. It’s bus drivers and long road truckers. Most everyone with a CDL {Commercial Driver’s License} is very much in need right now,” says Ramsburg.

The county has hired some additional contractors to help clear the roads of snow and ice. However, Ramsburg says that process may take a little longer this year and he’s urging citizens to be patient if their roads have not yet been plowed.

The Department says the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on snow removal, especially if plow drivers or their families test positive for the coronavirus, and had to go into quarantine. But with businesses and schools having to shut down in the early days of the pandemic, Ramsburg says that made it easier for plow drivers to clear the roads of snow and ice. “Schools were closed so there were no buses out. A lot of people were working from home, . So there was a large reduction of traffic on the road which helped last winter,” he says.

If you have to drive in the snow, Ramsburg says remove all snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof, windows, mirrors and lights before driving. Only travel during winter weather when necessary, and leave early to provide adequate time to safely reach your destination. In addition, slow down on winter roads as the speed limits are based on dry pavement and clear weather. Also, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and watch for the snow equipment   Be extra careful on bridges and ramps as they may be icy.

Before heading out, check your tires, brakes, lights, batter, wipers, defroster, heater, and your  vehicle’s fluid levels. And take tire chains, flashlights, ice scraper, snow shovel, first-aid supplies, extra clothing and gloves, blankets, flares, non-perishable food and water, and booster cables.

By Kevin McManus