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City and state workers work to stave off Tuesday's snow and Wednesday's black ice

Brandon Paykamian • Jan 16, 2018 at 10:53 PM

A lot of work and resources go into preparing for a potential snowfall, according to local and state officials.

In preparation for Tuesday’s snowy forecast, the Tennessee Department of Transportation worked to prepare Northeast Tennessee’s interstates and roads to keep traffic running smoothly.

“We began pretreating interstates and state routes on Monday. Crews reported for work early this morning and were immediately put on standby,” TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said. “Our crews will stay on the job as long as needed during this winter weather event.”

Nagi advised motorists to use caution during their morning commutes Wednesday, especially on bridges and overpasses.

During the winter season, Region 1, which covers the 24 counties of East Tennessee, has an $8.2 million budget to prepare for winter weather. This helps fund 205 salt trucks, 113 brine trucks, 68,601 tons of bulk salt and 76,700 tons of salt brine.

Much of this goes to work on the interstates, so municipalities also have to stay prepared for weather like Tuesday’s. When the forecast called for as much as 3 inches of snow — causing school systems such as Carter County, Washington County and Johnson City to dismiss early – Johnson City Assistant Director of Public Works Andy Best said municipalities across Northeast Tennessee had to prepare to plow and salt the roads as the snow moved eastward.

Best said workers prepared to use more than 400 tons of salt to help maintain road safety and stave off the black ice.

“Before we go out, we make sure all of our equipment is functioning and make sure our spreaders are working on all of our vehicles,” he said. “As soon as it looks like it’s getting ready to snow, we get up and head out to our routes.”

Even after state and local workers clear the roads and necessary measures are taken, black ice is a real concern after a wet snow.

“There could be that black ice in the morning,” Best said. “Obviously, everybody needs to assess it and be careful and make sure they have plenty of stopping distance for the driver in front of them.”

According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday’s predicted high was 21 degrees after Tuesday’s low of 14 degrees, which brings the possibility of dangerous driving conditions, particularly on rural roadways that are generally less serviced than city roadways.

“Even if it melts over the roadways, it could freeze overnight, so black ice could certainly be an issue during the night and tomorrow morning’s commute,” National Weather Service Spokesman Derek Eisentrout said.

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