MoDOT heats up preparation for the winter

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COLUMBIA - Fall might be in full swing, but MoDOT already has winter on its mind. MoDOT conducted a statewide winter readiness drill Wednesday.

MoDOT already has 200,000 tons of salt in its salt dome. Last year, MoDOT bought salt throughout the course of the winter and ultimately faced with a salt shortage.

The readiness drill taught new crew members how to properly prepare equipment during snow or ice storms; operate trucks, plows and salt beds; learn how to drive different snow routes; and work in teams to get the snow trucks geared up and out of the garages.

Returning crew members had the opportunity to fine tune their winter weather skills by participating in the drill. They also trained new MoDOT employees.

"I like the refresher it gives me new ideas. We talk about new ideas or what we did last year that might not have worked then that we want to change this year," said Brian Hulett, MoDOT Senior Maintenance Worker.

One goal of the drill was to expose new crew members to obstacles they might run into while driving a snow route. Driving the routes allowed them to practice navigating the truck around any and all problem areas.

"This gives them a chance to train with equipment without the rush of winter weather," said Rich Skelton, Assistant Maintenance Supervisor.

MoDOT officials said driving in winter weather can be very dangerous and they would like other drivers on the roadways to pay attention and slow down.

"One of the scariest things when you're driving along is not being able to see because of snow and ice on your window," said Hulett, "The snow and ice add obstruction to your view and people are trying to pass by you and it causes us trouble getting down the road."

Every piece of equipment was inspected by maintenance in order to ensure proper operation as part of the exercise.