IDOT, ISP, and IL Tollway make preparations for winter driving; motorists to prepare themselves and their vehicles
Drivers and equipment get prepped for snow removal efforts
CHICAGO—Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin, Illinois Tollway Acting Executive Director Brian McPartlin, and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent urged motorists to prepare themselves and their vehicles for winter driving conditions. Also, IDOT crews from around Illinois are making final preparations to get the state’s frontline personnel and equipment ready for winter emergencies.
“Winter weather will be upon us shortly, in fact this year we’ve already had accumulation in some parts of Chicago and Northern Illinois, so it’s important for motorists to get ready now because Illinois weather can become dangerous in a matter of minutes,” Secretary Martin said. “Our plow teams have spent the past several weeks running routes, getting refresher training and preparing plows, spreaders, trucks and all of the other equipment we need to clear the roads of ice and snow.”
IDOT scaled back mowing and other activities in order to save funds for fighting wintry weather. Snow removal is a safety issue and a top priority for the department. Because of conservation efforts earlier this year IDOT will maintain its clear pavement policy; meaning plow crews will stay out until a storm has passed and the highways are all free of accumulation. IDOT financial staff will closely monitor winter related expenses, but at no time will snow removal operations suffer because of financial considerations.
During the 2006-2007 winter season, more than 3,000 IDOT employees and nearly 2,000 pieces of equipment will be utilized in keeping state routes clear and passable. Last year IDOT spent $34.9 million dollars on snow removal efforts, that cost includes an estimated 324,000 tons of salt and 482,200 labor hours.
“We encourage all motorists to be prepared for winter driving conditions, and the Illinois Tollway is doing its part to make travel safer and easier,” McPartlin said. “The completion of Open Road Tolling lanes at all 20 mainline toll plazas on the Illinois Tollway will improve safety and help reduce congestion especially during winter weather by eliminating the need for I-PASS users to stop. However, it will still be important to remember to adjust your driving habits to the road conditions and to be aware of other drivers, who may not be taking the proper precautions.”
On the Illinois Tollway 178 plow trucks and 26 front loaders are ready to combat snow and ice storms this winter across the 274-mile system of roadways. Additionally, the Tollway has a supply of about 66,000 tons of salt, 42,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride and 5,000 tons of angular crushed stone. Stockpiled salt supplies are well in excess of the average amount used over a single winter season. Average annual salt usage per year over the last 10 years is 60,000 tons.
“Winter provides new challenges and responsibilities to the public and the Illinois State Police,” said Director Larry Trent. “We ask that drivers be prepared to meet the challenge of the upcoming winter season in Illinois. Plan ahead, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained, drive defensively and make sure the vehicle is properly maintained to handle the effects of cold temperatures.”
Other safety tips include:
- Make sure your vehicle is winterized—check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, defroster, wipers and windshield washers, etc.
- Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
- Dress warmly for the weather—dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
- Do not travel unless absolutely necessary—if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and plan ahead with safety in mind.
- Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
- Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
- Carry a cell phone.
- Always wear a safety belt.
Motorists are urged to check travel conditions before any trip. You may get interstate condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or on the Internet at http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
For information about the Illinois Tollway call 1-800-TOLL-FYI (1-800-865-5394) or log onto the web at http://www.illinoistollway.com. For roadway incidents IDOT Minute Men and Tollway HELP (Highway Emergency Lane Patrol) truck emergency services can be alerted via cellular phone by dialing *999, which is funded by the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation.