Two major winter storms impacted the north central PA region last month.
Now, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in District 2 is reminding motorists that being prepared for winter weather includes being educated about the winter services PennDOT provides.
PennDOT District 2 serves nine counties across the region, including Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Junita, McKean, Mifflin and Potter.
“Everyone plays a part in staying safe while traveling in winter weather,” said District 2 Executive Tom Zurat.
“Along with understanding PennDOT’s methods for winter service, motorists should also review road and weather conditions through 511PA before they head out.”
Motorists can learn about winter services at www.penndot.pa.gov/winter. On PennDOT’s winter page, customers can research winter operations, winter facts, storm tactics, the science of winter road treatments and more.
Road treatment applications are explained in detail to help motorists understand what materials work best under various roadway conditions and temperatures.
The major factors that determine what material will be used on a roadway are temperature and the amount of traffic.
For example, because salt is most effective when traffic is crushing and spreading it on the road, the lower a road’s traffic volume, the more PennDOT will mix anti-skid with salt or other materials.
Salt also isn’t a silver bullet. It becomes less effective once temperatures dip below 25 degrees.
The lower the temperature (below 15 degrees), the less salt we will use—thus a roadway may be snow-covered for a longer-than-usual period of time.
While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com.
511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA Web site.
Throughout winter, PennDOT actively monitors conditions and forecasts and ensures that material is in good supply.
PennDOT also works with Accuweather, the National Weather Service, and other agencies to prepare for winter storms and provide timely service.
Other tools PennDOT uses to enhance winter driving safety include speed reductions as needed, tier restrictions on commercial vehicles, permanent message boards along major highways, and variable speed limit signs (VSL) at 63 locations across PA.
The VSL signs help PennDOT quickly reduce speed limits when visibility or roadway conditions call for lower speeds.
Locations for VSLs were chosen based on crash and weather data, such as frequent wintry conditions and where crashes caused by whiteout conditions led to roadway closures.