Iowa DOT Making Preps for Winter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Every year, the Iowa Department of Transportation spends about $40 million dollars on snow removal, which includes everything from paying employees, getting snow plows ready, to making the materials that get rid of snow and ice on the roads.

The Iowa DOT tells us their winter season officially starts next week on October 15, 2018 and they're preparing now.

TV9 had the chance to catch up with the Iowa DOT's district 6 office in Cedar Rapids and watch as they turned their summer trucks into winter plows.

The DOT crews attached the plows onto the trucks and made sure blades are ready to go for the winter season.

This year the Iowa Department of Transportation spent $335,000 to put cameras in every plow.

The cameras can take still images of the route and people can actually track a plow and see what the snow plow is seeing by going online.

"You know we found some people were a bit confused by our color coding system so for us red or pink is icy, don't go out, this way you can actually see the route you are planning to go on and see what the snow plow drivers is seeing and make that decision if you need to take that trip or not ," says Cathy Cutler, transportation planner with the Iowa DOT.

All plows will also switch to the blue and white safety lights in addition to their normal amber color.

The DOT says those winter lights have helped cut down rear-end crashes by nearly two-thirds.

When it snows, these trucks are usually out at all times, but Cathy Cutler, with the Iowa DOT says every year it's still difficult to hire enough people to help with snow removal.

"One of our biggest challenges is getting part-time help to help us, so we hire 600 part-time snow fighters every year let alone people during the summer and fall months so we're always looking for people who have that CDL that have a few hours, nights or weekends what would work into their schedule," says Cutler.

In addition to getting trucks read, the rock salt has already been delivered, the salt sheds are stocked and will eventually be made into brine used to treat the roads which they'll use ahead of ice and snow.

The Iowa DOT tells us their winter season usually runs until March 15th.

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