April 16, 2024
Annapolis, US 63 F

Maryland’s SHA ready for winter weather

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) today held its annual “Snow Show” events today at the Statewide Operations Center in Anne Arundel County and its Fairland Maintenance Facility in Silver Spring, Montgomery County. MDOT SHA is fully stocked with material and equipment is ready to keep Maryland’s roads and bridges safe and passable this winter.

“MDOT SHA has an expert team that thinks about snow year-round, working to continually improve our strategizes for managing snow and ice,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Gregory Slater. “It is a good time for drivers to prepare by checking tires, putting ice scrapers in vehicles as well as emergency kits including jumper cables.”

MDOT SHA highlighted a newer technology on roadways, infrared weather sensors, that provide data on pavement conditions, atmospheric conditions and information on salinity content of moisture on treated roadways. Coupled with detailed weather monitoring, MDOT SHA is more efficient in timing of deployment of crews and use of materials.

“The smarter road technology helps MDOT SHA make smarter decisions, saving $11.7 million last season,” added Administrator Slater. Additionally, this year MDOT SHA will use the data to better inform drivers real-time by automatically posting pavement conditions to overhead digital message boards.

Anti-icing (Pre-treating):

MDOT SHA pre-treats our roads with salt brine in the event of winter storms that are forecasted to be snow on the onset. If it’s rain or freezing rain, the material will simply be washed off the road, wasting labor, materials and time. The temperature must be 20 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to apply salt brine. Any colder and it could freeze on contact.  Salt brine in 23 percent salt and 77 percent water.

Crews spray brine on roads in the days preceding a storm, allowing it to dry, leaving familiar streaks on the road. The film on the road helps to prevent the initial bonding of snow and ice from forming.

Pre-wetting granular salt:

Another proven salt reduction technique is pre-wetting salt before dispensing it onto the roads.  MDOT SHA wets the salt with salt brine at the distribution spinner directly before its applied to travel lanes. This helps it adhere to road surfaces and prevent waste due to “bounce and scatter.” Experience and studies show that pre-wetting can lead to a 30 percent reduction in salt usage.

Liquid-only routes:

MDOT SHA has designated many routes in the State as “liquid only” snow routes. This simply means that, in normal, non-blizzard storms, MDOT SHA crews will use salt brine only during the actual treatment of these roads during a snow storm.  MDOT SHA has strategically placed an additional 196,000 gallons of salt brine in key areas across Maryland.

During the storm

MDOT SHA’s advice is to TAKE IT SLOW ON ICE AND SNOW. Remember: don’t pass snow plows or plow trains. The unplowed roads are ahead of the plows and the treated roads are behind them.

MDOT SHA asks motorists to clear snow completely off vehicles before driving.  A clean vehicle provides increased visibility, and packed snow on car tops can become dangerous projectiles in the days after a storm. When the weather service forecasts storms with six or more inches of snow, MDOT SHA designates certain park and ride lots where commercial truck drivers can pull off and wait out the storm. These lots serve as safe havens for truckers and lessen the chance of large trucks becoming stuck or disabled during winter weather. For a complete listing of emergency truck parking locations, click here.

For storms forecasted with higher accumulations, MDOT SHA deploys heavy-duty tow trucks to strategic locations where there is a history of trucks becoming disabled


MDOT SHA maintains the State’s numbered, non-tolled roads in the 23 counties. To see what agency is responsible for what road, click on “Know Your Roads.”

MDOT SHA crews work hard to keep roads passable during snow storms to maintain access to critical services, such as hospitals.  “Know Before You Go – Especially in Ice and Snow.”  Maryland has free 511 traveler information by logging onto www.md511.org for current travel information including current snow emergency plans. Travelers can also plan ahead by logging onto www.roads.maryland.gov  and clicking on “CHART” before heading out.

Finally, follow SHA on social media via Twitter @MDSHA and on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/MarylandStateHighwayAdministration.  The social media platforms are staffed Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during major emergencies and storms.

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