State agencies preparing for upcoming winter

·2 min read

Oct. 4—State officials discussed preparations for the winter season on Monday during a Zoom press conference.

Acting PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula said that there is currently $197.7 million budgeted for this winter's statewide operations, along with 560,000 tons of salt on hand. Last year, PennDOT spent more than $200 million and used just under 900 tons of salt.

Batula said that the goal of road crews is to "keep the roads passable, not free of snow and ice," and urged drivers to use patience and remember to "never try to pass a plow chain operation."

Turnpike Commission Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey said that the Turnpike staff fully readies for winter.

He added that those traveling on state roads should be prepared.

"Pennsylvanians know that our winters can go from warm and sunny to cold and icy fairly quick," Shuey said.

"Please take time now to ensure that your vehicles are ready for wintery weather."

He said that drivers should ensure that wipers and tires are performing well, check antifreeze levels, use windshield washer solution suitable for freezing weather and maintain a gas tank that is half full.

He added that while it is preferred that drivers stay off of the roads in bad weather, if one must drive, they should maintain sufficient distances between cars and be prepared for stoppages and long waits.

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield reminded drivers to pay attention to weather alerts, but also know the difference between a weather watch and warning.

Padfield said that a watch means there is an increased risk of a hazardous weather event, but its occurrence, location, or timing is still uncertain. Pay attention to forecasts and plan out what you will do if/when it occurs, he said.

A warning means the weather event is imminent or is happening. Take immediate action to protect lives and property.

Officials added that updated information on state road conditions and locations of PennDOT plow trucks is available at www.511PA.com or by downloading the 511PA app.

"You can be ready for what's up ahead with the swipe of a screen," Shuey said.

"When the bad weather comes, you can readily find all of our roadway speed restrictions."

According to Batula, PennDOT is filling hundreds of seasonal positions across the state for a variety of positions, including equipment operators, welders and mechanics.

Details on job requirements and applications are available at www.employment.pa.gov.

Katie Smolen is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @KSmolen1230.

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