Chapter 1: District Snow and Ice Control Plans


Section 1: Overview

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The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been given statutory authority for the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the State Highway System. A key component of the maintenance of certain highways is the control of snow and ice. For many years TxDOT maintenance forces have strived to provide a safe travel way during winter conditions while keeping traffic delays to a minimum.

The maintenance of Texas highways is increasingly challenged in that higher public expectations and increasing traffic are complicating operations. To maintain satisfactory levels of service, TxDOT must strive for maximum effectiveness from its management, crews, equipment and materials. The snow and ice program is no exception.

The priorities for snow and ice operations are:

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  1. Heavier traveled sections of streets and highways.
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  3. Known trouble spots, such as bridge decks, steep grades, sharp curves intersections and ramps.
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  5. Routes near hospitals, emergency facilities and schools.
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  7. Lighter traveled sections of streets and highways.

Snow and ice control is performed as necessary to facilitate the safe, effective and efficient movement of people and goods in accordance with best management practices. What are best management practices for effective snow and ice control? Although many factors are involved, timing is critical. The time and effort required to plow or clear roadways dramatically increases once snow and ice bond to the roadway. TxDOT must prepare in advance and make a timely response to snow and ice with trained personnel, fully functioning and well-maintained equipment, adequate supplies of sand, salt, or other materials, and methods for communicating with one another as well as the traveling public.

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Road Closures

When it becomes apparent that a road section will need to be closed because of snow or ice, the Department of Public Safety or local law enforcement jurisdiction should be asked to officially close the road. (Contact information for local and state law enforcement agencies should be included in each district's Snow and Ice Control Plan.) We will make or continue to make the effort to work the area. Notice should be given to all news media and appropriate officials. For highways crossing district(s) or state line(s), the closure should be coordinated with the appropriate counterparts.

Where practical, signs should be erected to advise traffic. After road closure signs are erected, a trip should be made through the closed area to ascertain that no one is stranded in the closed section.

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Railroad Grade Crossing

When plowing the highway, piles of snow should not be left at railroad grade crossings. After plowing, the rail should be cleaned of the snow pack, ice, gravel or dirt.

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Purpose of this Manual

The purpose of this manual is to develop consistent practices that focus on a proactive approach to snow and ice control across the state. In addition to responding in a timely manner to a snow and ice event, other best management practices addressed in this manual will aid maintenance personnel in developing the best snow and ice control strategies.

The Snow & Ice Control Operations manual contains the following chapters:

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  • Chapter 1, District Snow and Ice Control Plans: Provides the basic elements to be contained in a written Snow and Ice Control Plan.
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  • Chapter 2, Materials: Provides information about the different types of materials used in snow and ice control, recommendations for their use, the types of testing (if any) necessary for each, and the environmental considerations to keep in mind when using.
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  • Chapter 3, Equipment Maintenance: Provides descriptions and photos of the major pieces of equipment used in snow and ice control, with checklists of tasks to be performed before, during and after a storm.
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  • Chapter 4, Purchasing: Provides purchasing information for anti/de-icing materials, major and minor equipment, parts, and provisions for leasing equipment and lease purchase contracts.
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  • Chapter 5, Bridge Maintenance Needs: Provides information on the special maintenance needs of bridge decks, joints, beams, caps and columns following the use or storage of anti/de-icing materials.
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  • Chapter 6, Personnel: Provides information about the responsibilities of maintenance supervisors, outsourcing snow and ice control, the tracking of field employees, equipment for employees, and safety and training of affected employees.
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  • Chapter 7, Reporting: Provides information on requirements for federal, state, district and local reporting.
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  • Chapter 8, Weather Forecasting: Provides information on sources for accurate and reliable weather reports and forecasts, the National Weather Service’s system of advisories and warnings, and thermal mapping.
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  • Chapter 9, Alternate Methods: Provides information on different methods of preventing or combatting snow and ice formation or accumulation on highways and bridges, including snow fences and various anti-icing and de-icing systems.
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Introduction to this Chapter

This chapter discusses the basic components and elements of a district’s written Snow and Ice Control Plan, with examples of two such plans.

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