As the chance for snow in Columbia County increases this week, the Oregon Department of Transportation is ready to help get you from here to there in an effort to keep the main state roads clear.
In the following conversation. ODOT's public affairs representative Lou Torres gives us insight into the efforts.
The Chief: What specific areas of Columbia County will ODOT prioritize during any heavy snow and ice event and why those specific areas?
Lou Torres: In Columbia County, when we have major snow and ice events, U.S. 30 is the highest priority state highway. Of all the state highways in Columbia County, it has by far the highest daily traffic. It is not only a major commuter route for folks who work in Portland, it is also a major commercial route for large trucks connecting to Astoria and the Coast, and into Washington via the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Rainier. OR 47 would probably be our next high priority road.
The Chief: How is ODOT preparing for the predicted snowfall for our region .. number of crews.. what type of vehicles to be used.. how much sand/salt/deicer?
Torres: All of ODOT’s crews will be available working 12-hour, round the clock shifts. If conditions allow, crews will be pre-treating roads with de-icer -- magnesium chloride with rust inhibitor – on area roads with plows and sanding trucks on standby for use as needed.
In the upcoming severe weather, ODOT will deploy and use all available tools in its winter arsenal, including plows, sanders, deicers and solid rock salt, as appropriate. Crews and equipment will be prepositioned to respond.
The Chief: What recommendations and advisories does ODOT have for drivers and pedestrians concerning travel in this region.
Torres: Use plenty of caution and observe a few common sense rules for navigating hazardous weather conditions.
- Get safely situated. Don’t wait until after a storm hits to get on the road. Get to your destination yourself before conditions turn nasty and unsafe.
- Travel smart. Consider waiting until a storm passes to get on your bike or in your car. Or work from home all day.
- Look out for each other. If you must drive, remember people walking or biking are harder to see in a storm. If you’re biking or walking remember that cars don’t stop quickly on snow and ice.
- Leave early. It’s smart to allow plenty of time to get where you’re going. In severe weather, closures and crashes can cause long delays.
- Check on any appointments you have before you leave. Offices and businesses may be closing due to the weather conditions.
- Know before you go. Plan your route. Visit Tripcheck.com in advance to look at ODOT cameras and check conditions.
- Don’t abandon your vehicle. It prevents us from clearing the road and emergency services from getting to the people who need them.
- Carrying an emergency kit that includes supplies of water and food, and blankets. Have a full tank of gas and charge your phone.
- Beware of outages. If a storm knocks out power to traffic signals, treat intersections like an all-way stop. The driver who stops first goes first.
- Watch for plows. ODOT sand trucks, plows and deicer trucks can’t clear roads clogged with traffic. The more traffic stays off the road, the quicker roads can be treated. Stay at least three car lengths back. Everybody benefits the sooner they can get the road cleared.
Torres said, remember, driving on ice and snow pack is never a safe choice. The safest thing to do is stay off the road.
Follow the latest weather developments here at thechronicleonline.com.