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MoDOT Prepares For Winter With Statewide Drill

A MoDOT snow plow

Snow is not in the weather forecast yet but it is not too early for the Missouri Department of Transportation to prepare for winter storms. A statewide drill will be conducted on November 5 to test the readiness of MoDOT maintenance crews.

The point of the annual drill is to make sure every MoDOT employee knows what to do when snowstorms hit the weather forecast.

Matthew Seiler is the assistant district engineer for MoDOT’s southeast district. He said the plan is to simulate a storm and get maintenance crews prepared for this scenario. It will be the occasion for new or seasonal employees to drive the highways and get a feel of what it is like to drive a truck while plowing snow.

“It’s more of an opportunity for our employees to kind of get back in the winter mode, and get a feel for what it’s like to drive the trucks and be familiar with the routes that they are going to be plowing on,” Seiler said.

He said it is important to practice beforehand for this kind of weather in order for the employees to be ready to face it.

“It’s always a good practice to be able to drive the roads before that occurs just so that our employees are familiar with the roads and where they are going to be plowing so that it’s one less thing they have to be trying to figure out and think about when they are trying to concentrate on plowing the snow and doing a great job,” Seiler said.

The MoDOT southeast district covers 25 counties and counts between 500 and 600 employees. Not all of them will be out driving around in the trucks during the drill but all will be involved to some extent.

People may notice more MoDOT vehicles on state routes during the drill but Seiler said traffic should not be disrupted. In rural areas, maintenance crews will be deployed after 8 a.m., and after 9 a.m. in urban areas. MoDOT estimates the exercise will take about six hours.

MoDOT is preparing for the winter weather in other ways, through training on how to use salt spreaders, loader training and so forth.

“There is a lot of different things that employees need to know and get refreshed on so that when it does snow and winter comes we are ready to go,” Seiler said.

He said they are always preparing for a normal winter, which would typically count 12 to 18 small snowstorms in Southeast Missouri. Seiler added that this year MoDOT has secured enough salt for around the state in order to face a normal to mild winter.

Marine Perot was a KRCU reporter for KRCU in 2014.