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Road crews prepare for winter weather

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)
(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

LAWTON,Ok (KSWO) - Road crews across southwest Oklahoma are preparing for the snow that's expected to fall Thursday night.

Both the City of Lawton and Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews have their trucks filled with a mixture of salt and sand ready to put on the roadways giving them a head start on the storm.

While the City of Lawton waits to treat the roads until after the snowfall because they say rain usually washes the mixture away, ODOT prepares the roadways beforehand so when snow hits the roads there is something already helping to melt the snow until crews can get to all the roadways.
Both the City of Lawton Street and Traffic crews, and crews with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation started preparing for winter weather months ago by making their weather mixtures. The city only uses a sand and salt mixture after the snow storm. 

Tracy Terrill, ODOT's Assistant Divison Engineer-Maintenance said ODOT uses the salt and sand mixture, along with a pre-treatment called brine which is 23 percent salt and 77 percent water. 

"The salt pre-treatment means that there's already salt which helps melt the snow there when it's falling whether we've gotten there with one of our snow plows or not. In other words, it gives us a head start and helps prevent the snow from sticking and accumulating on the roadways," Terrill said.

He said they started two days ago and you may have noticed the white streaks left behind on pre-treated highways.

"It's much easier to come in and work and get ahead of it. We really don't want to get behind," Terrill said.

Cliff Haggenmiller with the City of Lawton said getting the trucks ready ahead of time also makes it safer for the employees.

"Putting this equipment out involves them climbing the side of the boxes and obviously if it was icy, nighttime, with blowing snow, it’s a safety hazard. We try to do it when we can do it as safely as possible," Haggenmiller said.

Both ODOT and the city have people tracking the storm and road conditions to see if it gets bad enough for the crews to deploy. If they're getting reports they call in the necessary people to make the roadways safer.

"Typically we try to get to the bridges and hills first. That's typically where the primary start where police dispatch starts to call. Once we bring all the employees and equipment on board then they have set routes that they do so they'll just go through their routes hitting the areas," Haggenmiller said.

Both ODOT and the city say drivers should be aware of the crews and keep at least 200-feet behind their trucks.

ODOT says if you don't have to drive in this type of weather, stay home but if you must do any traveling on the highways, you can check the ODOT website at and click on the interactive road conditions and closures map.

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