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ITD prepares roads for Thanksgiving snowstorm

itd plow pretreatment
An ITD truck sprays pre-treatment brine on the pavement before a snowstorm.
itd driver plowing
Bruce Dial has been plowing and prepping Idaho's roads for nearly 17 years.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - By the time we're heading out the door for Grandma's Thanksgiving dinner, the roads may look like a scene out of the new Frozen.

Fortunately, people like Bruce Dial at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) prepared our roads for the upcoming snowstorm.

Dial has been working with ITD for nearly 17 years. He's spent his life in Idaho winters, and knows what it takes to keep the roads safe.

Crews start prepping the roads about a day before an impending storm arrives, Dial said.

“Depends on day, night, whenever it’s gonna be coming in,” Dial said. “We’ve got kind of a window to help us keep the snow and ice and stuff off the roads."

ITD uses brine, a liquid salt, and magnesium chloride before storms to keep the ice off the roads. It leaves pail, watery lines along the interstate roads.

“We’re actually putting the material down in a liquid state, and then the traffic comes on it, like truckers and cars, and that helps spread it over the whole road,” Dial said.

Considering how large Idaho is, that's a lot of ground for ITD to cover. Crews are stationed in many cities across Idaho to get the job done.

Dial's office in Pocatello covers about 200 miles each time ITD pretreats the roads.

“Usually to do the whole section that we have, it can take anywhere between six and eight hours,” Dial said.

During the storm, ITD plows the roads and sprays solid salt to burn through the snow on the road, according to ITD.

Plowing can be dangerous, especially at night. ITD offers some tips on how to drive in the snow and keep the people plowing the roads safe.

Dial's best advice is to drive slow and plan on giving yourself extra time to get where you're going, otherwise...

“If the conditions are bad, you might slide off the road,” Dial said.

ITD safety tips:

  • Remain two car lengths behind snowplow trucks for every 10 mph you drive. Sand being spread by trucks can damage your vehicle.
  • Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must pass, do so only when you can clearly see the road ahead. Do not pass on the side where the plow is spraying snow. If you do, the snow’s force can knock your car out of control.
  • Do not cut back immediately in front of a snowplow truck. The plow blades are often covered with snow and can be difficult to see.
  • Do not brake suddenly if you are traveling in front of a snowplow. The heavy vehicle cannot stop as quickly as an automobile.

For more safety tips and a winter driving checklist, click here.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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