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Let it snow: Kingsport and TDOT are ready

Matthew Lane • Jan 12, 2018 at 8:48 AM

KINGSPORT — As far as the weather goes, this week has definitely been better than last week. It’s gone from single-digit, bitterly cold temperatures to much warmer weather with a high in the middle 60s.

Though in typical Northeast Tennessee fashion, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes. It’ll be sure to change.

The National Weather Service is predicting a 90 percent chance of rain on Friday with temperatures dropping below freezing overnight. That means we could see snow on Saturday.

In an effort to assure residents that Kingsport is on top of the situation, Streets and Sanitation Manager Ronnie Hammonds on Tuesday gave a public presentation about his division’s bad weather response plan.

Monitoring the storm

- Streets and Sanitation monitors long-term weather forecasts and prepares for bad weather when snow events enter a five-day window.

- Workers will pretreat the roads up to 36 to 72 hours before the start of a snow event.

- Eight to 12 hours before the storm hits, a staff meeting is held where personnel, equipment and shifts are discussed and determined.

Battling the storm

- Workers are on 12-hour shifts during a storm event with about 40 people per shift.

- To keep the streets clear of snow and ice, Kingsport has three pretreatment trucks, 35 trucks with snowplows and a road grader at its disposal.

- Fleet maintenance runs around the clock to make sure all of the snow-battling equipment is up and running. Other personnel from public works assist in the effort as well.

- Kingsport keeps 3,500 tons of salt on hand at the beginning of the year and can order up to an additional 3,000 tons if necessary.

Clearing the streets

- The roads in Kingsport are treated and cleared based on priority, with the top priority roads being state routes (Stone Drive, Fort Henry Drive, Memorial Boulevard, Lynn Garden Drive and Center Street).

- Priority 2 roads are typically collector roads like Netherland Inn, Lincoln Street, Eastman Road, Riverport Road, Rock Springs, Fairview, Orebank and Fall Creek.

- Priority 3 roads are next and include neighborhood streets. Finally, no outlet streets and city-owned parking lots are the last to be scraped.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is also assuring motorists it is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow. In preparation for the winter season, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snowplows and brine trucks.

TDOT’s statewide 2017/2018 winter weather budget is $21.4 million and includes salt, salt brine, overtime for employees and equipment maintenance. The department has three salt vendors to refill salt bins as needed in all 95 counties.

TDOT has a fleet of more than 800 snow trucks statewide, designed to remove snow and ice safely and efficiently from state routes and interstates. In January 2018, 108 new trucks will hit the road to tackle winter weather.

For winter weather tips and travel information, and a regional breakdown of TDOT winter weather supplies and equipment, visit the TDOT web site at https://www.tn.gov/tdot/inclement-weather/ice---snow.html.

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