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Thursday, October 27, 2011
Dave Chesson, WSDOT communications, 360-661-7829 (Burlington)
BELLINGHAM – Weather experts are predicting La Niña is back for a double dip – and that means road crews and drivers should be prepared for another challenging winter. No matter what the weather brings, highway crews are ready for whatever blows in.
“Nobody likes a double dipper,” said Maintenance Supervisor Ric Willand. “But we’re ready for it. We’ve got our trucks primed, and we’ll hit the road as soon as the snow flies.”
Snow crews with the Washington State Department of Transportation in Whatcom County spent the morning reviewing snow routes, emergency protocols and techniques for plowing and de-icing. In the afternoon, crews were in the shop outfitting trucks with snow-fighting tools like snowplows and salt spreaders. Just to make sure the trucks were firing on all cylinders, crews ran them through some tests.
“We want to be ready before the snow hits,” Willand said. “Some of this equipment has sat for several months in the garage; we’re getting it out and dusting it off, making sure it still works and is ready to go.”
The snow has already started flying in the mountains. WSDOT closed a one-mile stretch of Mount Baker Highway (State Route 542) for the season near Artist Point on Wednesday, Oct. 26, after new snow covered the highway.
It’s only a matter of time before the snow reaches the lowlands. And when it does, the 30-person snow team in Whatcom County is trained and ready to go. The 14 trucks are equipped with the proper snow gear – blades, chains, salt spreaders, GPS devices and more – and seven strategically located sand/salt sheds are stocked to the rafters.
Like a hockey player returning to the ice for the first time this season, WSDOT crews go through a game plan, check their equipment carefully and take a few laps to get back in the swing of another season. Drivers should take this opportunity to do the same, and can create a winter game plan by visiting the WSDOT snow and ice website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter.
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