TDOT Snowbusters Ready to Battle Snow and Ice Across Tennessee

Thursday, December 07, 2006 | 06:00pm

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) maintenance forces are committed to keeping the state’s interstates, U.S. highways and state routes clear during the upcoming winter season.

“The Department will do everything in its power to maintain travel during a winter weather event,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “Our efforts will begin before the weather arrives, and will continue as long as it takes to clear the highways and ensure safe travel for motorists.”

Initial efforts will be focused on the most heavily traveled interstates and state routes, and to vulnerable locations like hills, curves, ramps, bridges, and interchanges.

TDOT is able to monitor roadway conditions across the state using 37 Roadway Weather Information System (RWIS) stations. The RWIS stations monitor a variety of weather related factors including air temperatures; dew-point information; wind speed/direction; precipitation types and rates; and asphalt temperatures. This system alerts TDOT maintenance supervisors when freezing conditions are imminent.

TDOT has a statewide budget of over 11 million dollars for its winter maintenance program which utilizes state-of-the-art technology along with proven snow and ice removal techniques to keep winter roads clear. During a typical snow event, crews begin by first apply anti-icing brine to roadways. Sand, salt and calcium chloride may then be used to remove any accumulating snow and ice.

Salt brine is a salt and water mix that is sprayed onto roadway surfaces before snow and ice begin to fall. The liquid salt brine solution helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the road surface. The solution is more cost effective and reduces the amount of sodium released into the environment.

Calcium chloride, when mixed with water, creates a heated liquid which can melt ice at temperatures as low as 5 degrees. When salt is sprayed with calcium chloride, the heat released also helps speed up rock salt’s melting capacity.

Here is a look at some of the department’s winter maintenance statistics from a statewide perspective.

  • Salt Trucks: 808
  • Salt (tons): 196,546
  • Salt Brine (gallons): 1,417,060
  • Salt Bins: 119
  • 2006-2007 available budget for winter weather needs: $11,259,017.00
  • 2005-2006 statewide winter-weather cost summary: $10,854,098.02
  • R.W.I.S. weather stations: 37

Winter maintenance supplies by region are as follows (approximated):

  Brine (gallons) Salt (tons) Snow Plows
Region One: 257,060 57,212 251
Region Two: 200,000 60,000 154
Region Three: 551,000 50,086 207
Region Four: 409,000 29,248 182

For photographic purposes, here are the closest RWIS weather stations as related to TDOT’s regional headquarters facilities.

Region One: I-640 at Pleasant Ridge Road near Western Avenue Exit
Region Two: I-24 east near Old Ringgold Road overpass on Missionary Ridge near mile marker 181
Region Three: Briley Parkway & the Cumberland River Bridge near Ford Glass Company
Region Four: I-55 at I-40 in Shelby County

For more information about winter maintenance supplies by TDOT district or for road condition information, go to the TDOT web site at

Motorists are reminded that they can access valuable real-time information about road and weather conditions, including traffic incidents, by dialing 511 from any mobile or land-line phone or by logging onto

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