BERLIN — Despite the unusual balmy weather that has persisted over the local area of late, cold temperatures, snow and ice are inevitable, and the State Highway Administration (SHA) has a few new weapons in its arsenal to combat them.
SHA officials this month released its snow removal plans for the Lower Eastern Shore, including Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester counties, including a new “winged plow” that will be utilized if and when snow falls over the area. The wing plow is essentially an additional blade that can be lowered and raised on the side of a snow plow as needed to complement a newly-designed plow on the front of the vehicle.
Snow removal trucks equipped with the wing plow will be able to reduce the number of passes it takes to clear secondary roads because of the additional plow width. The new innovation will be available on many of the snow removal vehicles in SHA’s fleet for the Lower Eastern Shore counties.
Another innovation announced by SHA officials this week for the Lower Eastern Shore is the addition of snow volunteers who, as part of the normal commute, will report roadway conditions across the Lower Shore to SHA’s snow removal operations centers. The “snow squad” volunteers will help SHA officials provide real-time conditions to the traveling public and better direct equipment and manpower to trouble spots.
According to the SHA release, preparations are already in place for District 1, which includes the four counties on the Lower Shore and its 1,562 lane-miles of roadway. The preparations include the availability of 11,430 tons of salt to apply to District 1 roadways, 66 SHA trucks and equipment, along with 83 trucks and snow removal equipment lined up for hire.
According to SHA officials, preparation for the winter season is a year-long job with teams preparing equipment and securing needed chemicals on even the hottest of summer days. The plan includes pre-storm preparation as well as post-storm responses. For example, SHA will pretreat highways across the Lower Shore in advance of a storm using a salt brine solution, which helps prevent snow and ice from sticking or bonding to the pavement. This allows SHA crews to stay ahead of the game and reduces overall salt usage due to salt scatter, which is when salt rolls off the roadway before it can become effective.