published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Tennessee preparing for harsh winter weather

A salt truck prepares for icy weather in this file photo.
A salt truck prepares for icy weather in this file photo.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Two hundred and thirty-five thousands tons of salts: check.

One million eight hundred thousand gallons of salt water: check.

Yup, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials say they're stocked up and ready to keep state roadways clear of ice and snow this winter. Over the past several weeks the state has replenished its supplies and readied snow plows and brine trucks.

The announcement comes with predictions of wintry conditions in Middle and West Tennessee. TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said the department is ready for that and more.

“We have more than a thousand employees who are trained in snow and ice removal, and they are ready to mobilize when winter weather hits Tennessee,” Schroer said in a news release on Thursday. “Clearing our highways as quickly as possible is essential in our efforts to keep motorists safe and keep traffic moving.”

State officials were caught flat-footed in 2011 when snow and sleety conditions sent the TDOT's snow and ice removal budget into a slide with the $14 million set aside quickly hitting $21 million by late January.

The department's statewide winter weather budget is $19.7 million this year. That includes salt, salt brine, potential employee overtime and maintenance on equipment. The state has three salt vendors under contract to refill salt bins in all 95 Tennessee counties.

Salt brine is a salt/water mixture used to pre-treat roads prior to a winter storm or to melt snow on roadways when temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark.

Salt is applied to roads once snow has started to accumulate.

Interstates like I-24 and I-75 and heavily traveled state routes have first dibs from ice and snow removal teams. Crews target areas especially vulnerable to freezing, such as hills, curves, ramps, bridges and interchanges.

During prolonged weather events, crews may have to clear roadways repeatedly, officials say.

TDOT has a number of tools available to keep motorists informed about travel conditions including the TDOT SmartWay website ( and the 5‑1‑1 motorist information line.

You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can download the TDOT SmartWay mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes

For more information about TDOT winter weather preparations, or for a regional breakdown of TDOT winter weather supplies and equipment, visit the TDOT web site at

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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