With this weather comes traffic updates. Wednesday afternoon, PennDOT issuing road restrictions for major routes — including Interstates 80 and 99. We spoke with a PennDOT Official about their preparations for this storm.
One PennDOT official working in maintenance tells us storms like this are something they’re familiar with. Nonetheless, he says there are certain challenges. Jason Powell, the Maintenance Operations Manager of PennDOT District 2 saying: “This storm’s gonna be a challenge for us because we’re gonna see it go from freezing rain to sleet to snow.”
It’s the time of year when all their planning is given a stress test. Powell adding: “So, today our crews are going over all of our equipment to make sure there’s no glitches and everything’s taken care of, and our equipment’s ready to roll for the incoming event. We have crews this afternoon, they’re gonna be out starting to pre-treat our roadways”
But with less plow drivers than they’d like, Powell from PennDOT saying they’re not immune to economic downturn. Powell saying: “We’re no different than any other company in the general area. You see advertisements everywhere for companies hiring. We at PennDOT are no different. So, we’re actively recruiting drivers for our operations.” All this possibly impacting snow plow routes. Powell adding: “Keep in mind too that, if someone calls off sick for the day, you know, they come down with the flu, whatever… then we will have to extend snow routes and it may be a longer period of time before we service the road.”
Labor isn’t PennDOT’s only economic issue. So is the price of materials — especially that of salt. Powell adding: “Prices have increased dramatically from last year to this year. There’s no doubt in that we’re seeing inflation in our raw materials.” Nonetheless, Powell tells us they still get by and order the amount they need. Powell saying: “So, we budget for amount based on tonnage, because historically that’s what we use and we make sure we have enough material on the ground to get us through the winter.”
A reminder to plan your travel for Thursday and to check PennDOT’s PA 511 App for travel updates. Powell, in closing: “And the one thing that we really need from the area residents, or just the community in general, is to please slow down. Please allow extra time in your commute tomorrow, leave 15 minutes early, drive at a reasonable speed.”
For updated road closures, you can check 511PA.com.