(ST.JOSEPH,MO) Freezing rain that moved into the area before the most recent winter blast Tuesday night has left a sheet of ice along a majority of roads in northwest Missouri.
Tonya Lohman,MoDOT district maintenance and traffic engineer, said rain tends to wash away any treatment previously done on the roads before a major snow storm. Lohman also said while the state removes snow from all major roads, high traffic routes are typically given more attention.
“We prioritize the routes based on the volumes that we have. So obviously interstates are the most important, because you have 20 to 30, 40,000 cars a day that are going down those,” Lohman said. “Then you have your US routes.Then you have your Missouri routes.Then you prioritize those down and get to the lettered roads."
Lohman said crews are on the road 24/7 working 12 hour shifts to clear and treat roads.
"We have 181 trucks. I believe right now we had 175 of those that are out, plus we have at least five motor graders out at some of our buildings. We have at least four or five tractors that are out, and I think we have six pickups that are out," Lohman said.
MoDOT has 23 maintenance buildings that cover 20 counties across northwest Missouri. Each maintenance hub is responsible for covering between 300 to 450 miles of road.
“If it’s 400 miles that the building is taking care of, it’s really more like 800, because you have to go up the road and then back down,” Lohman said. “If it’s a four lane road like US-71, or US-36 or I-29, you have to quadruple, so instead of it being one mile, it’s actually four miles of pavement that you are taking care of.”
Sunny conditions Wednesday afternoon helped melt down some of the remaining snow, but Lohman said additional traffic on the roads has a huge impact on how well a road is cleared.
"You have the salt on the roadway and when it's mixed in with the sand and stuff and the tires are going over [it] that helps crush and breakup that icy, snowy, hard-packed condition on the roadway,” Lohman said. “The higher volume routes, you will see them go to slush a lot quicker. Then we can get back around and put that slush back off again and then do a treatment.”
Lohman said while road conditions are improving throughout northwest Missouri, drivers should still be cautious and take their time when traveling.
"With winter the best thing to do is always allow extra time,” Lohman said."I would always add in double your time. If it takes you 20 minutes, allow 40 minutes."
You can check highway conditions and find a list of road delays and closures on MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map.