IDOT urging drivers to prepare now for upcoming winter season

The Illinois Department of Transportation is preparing for winter weather.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:38 PM CST
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SOUTHERN Ill. (KFVS) - We’ve already seen our first snowfall of the season, and we know there’s more to come.

That means it’s time to share the road with plow drivers and prepare to drive through those conditions yourself.

“You got to give us time to do it. People get upset we’re there, they’re upset cause we’re not there and it just takes time to clean them and do it right,” said Kevin Oestreicher, IDOT lead worker at the Pickneyville yard.

With winter weather around the corner, IDOT workers are encouraging drivers to give snow plow operators room to work.

“For us to put the salt out properly, to make it work properly, we’ve got to drive slow. Because if not it just bounces and scatters all over the road if there’s not a lot of salt,” Oestreischer said.

I took a ride along inside one of IDOT’s plows. The plow itself is 12-feet long and the driver has a lot to keep track of.

“You got a radio going, we got monitors in there, he’s got to get his plow positioned in the right direction and he got salt coming out, he got to make sure salt coming out of his spinning auger to get on the road for you, so you can have safe travels,” said Scotty Henry, IDOT lead worker at the Cairo yard.

Across District 9, more than 3,600 miles of state roadways need to be plowed across 16 counties.

IDOT is urging drivers to exercise patience while on the road.

“There’s something new every day,” Henry said. “The weather might present a danger, the truck itself might present a danger or like in our line of work we drive for the other driver too. So we have to watch for the other driver, we have to watch for the weather, we have to watch for deer, watch for all unseen things.”

The Illinois State Police is also offering up tips for drivers as the weather get colder.

“Slowing down, slowing down and being prepared. Having extra equipment in the car. Blankets, ice scrapers, warm clothes and give yourself plenty of distance between vehicles while traveling,” said Rodger Goines, PIO for the Illinois State Police.

There is a cost to all that snow removal. In 2021, IDOT spent more than $91 million to clear Illinois highways, including more than $4 million in its southern Illinois district.