A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KYTC reports snow-plow drivers are trained and ready for the upcoming winter season; salt supply on hand

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

While it’s been reported that 11 states have a shortage of snowplow drivers for the upcoming winter season, that does not appear to be the case in Kentucky, where state transportation crews are on the lookout for the first sight of snow to spring into action.

Nearly 2,100 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet staff and crew members have been preparing for months for the launch of snow and ice season when crews are on standby to maintain travel on state routes once winter weather strikes.

“As we round out the final months of the year, state road crews are on high alert to serve Kentuckians when winter weather inevitably appears,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.  “We all have a part to play to ensure the people providing these essential services are protected by masking up, getting vaccinated and giving them plenty of room on the roads when they are out.”

Over the course of months, KYTC crews have been trained, statewide salt and road treatment supplies restocked, plow trucks serviced and contingency plans for quarantined crews finalized.  A fleet of more than 1,365 state-owned and contracted plow trucks are ready to respond when the weather warrants it.

“In the past 12 months we endured our first snow and ice season in the midst of a health pandemic, and tackled back-to-back severe winter events this year that blanketed roads with sheets of ice and debris,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray.  “While the severity and frequency of weather events stands to be unknown, we are doing our best with the resources we have to keep critical state routes passable so citizens and commerce can keep moving.”

KYTC has doubled its fleet of tow plows, which can clear two lanes at once.  The cabinet has eight tow plows around the state this year, up from four last winter.  Two of the plows will be based in Frankfort with a KYTC strike force that can be dispatched to lend support to crews in different regions during major weather events. Tow plows are ideally suited for use on high-priority routes that have wide lanes, such as interstates and parkways.

The Cabinet has stockpiled over 300,000 tons of salt, 1 million gallons of brine for anti-icing efforts and 875,000 gallons of calcium chloride, an additive to salt for deicing.

Accuweather.com recently reported a shortage in snowplow crews in 11 states, including four of Kentucky’s neighbors: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Missouri and Ohio were both trying to fill over 100 open positions.  

Other short-handed states included Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Wyoming, according to Accuweather.

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