ODOT maintenance crews
rise to the winter challenge
ODOT maintenance crews throughout the Rogue Valley use different tools – plowing, chemicals and sanding materials – to stay ahead of the winter weather. For example, crews apply chemicals and sanding material on hills, curves, structures, and known trouble spots. Chemicals are used both as an antiicer, before the storm to help prevent ice from forming on the road surface, and as a deicer, after the storm to help break the bond between ice and the road surface. The Siskiyou Pass presents a unique challenge. When a storm hits Southern Oregon, the highest priority is the ten-mile stretch of Siskiyou Pass on Interstate 5, due to its importance as a regional freight route and its high traffic volumes. Crew schedules are adjusted to provide 24-hour coverage during the winter to keep employees fresh and ready to respond to any storm, day or night. “When a snowstorm hits the mountain passes our crews are ready for the challenge,” said ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon. “Keeping I-5 open is our first priority.” ODOT maintains other mountain passes in Southern Oregon at lower levels of service than
December 16, 2011
the Siskiyou Pass. The Sexton and Smith Passes on I-5 in Josephine County are equal priority to the Siskiyous, however those mountain passes are at significantly lower elevations and do not see the same frequency of winter storms. The Siskiyou Pass is Oregon’s only mountain pass where all-weather or studded tires cannot be substituted for chains. “Because of the grades, the traffic and the experience of drivers on Siskiyou Pass, we go to a higher standard of traction devices,” Marmon said. “When we say chains are required on the Siskiyous, every vehicle has to chain up except vehicles equipped with fourwheel drive.” Ill-equipped for winter travel Storm-related delays and short-term closures on the Siskiyou Pass are a common occurrence. However, motorists are often caught ill-equipped to travel over the I-5 mountain pass. “One of the biggest errors we see is people unprepared for winter conditions and a long wait in their car,” ODOT Maintenance Manager Everett Carroll said. Carroll manages the Ashland Maintenance crew, which is responsible for the Siskiyou Pass.