Winter Roadmap: A 7-Step Checklist For Safer, Smarter Road Maintenance

As sub-zero temperatures grip the country, Rebecca Sakayeda shares some key winter weather planning advice for road maintenance teams tackling the deep freeze head-on.

With 75% of the US population suffering below-freezing temperatures this week, and no less than 3,480 domestic flights being cancelled, road maintenance teams might feel like they’re playing whack-a-mole with Mother Nature as they rush to salt or brine roads on routes that have been worst impacted by the extreme weather.

So as municipalities across the country are running through their winter road maintenance checklists and setting their internal and public-facing action plans in motion, here we have compiled some of the best advice from the industry into your roadmap for a safer winter.

You can download a printable version of the roadmap right here.

1. Have an Action Plan

Create a winter weather plan for your municipality, or review it if you already have a plan in place. Make sure to share your plan with key members on your team, and then place it in a central (preferably cloud-based) location for easy access and future reference.

2. Ensure Staff Are Prepared

Verify and recruit the necessary number of winter drivers. Modify scheduling of drivers and truck maintenance workers for availability based upon current or predicted conditions. Also, provide a new or refresher training course on what weather they should be prepared for this winter season.

3. Review All Equipment

If trucks are equipped with mobile data collection and automated vehicle location (MDC/AVL) technology, check to verify that sensors are clean and installed correctly, and that data is running smoothly. Initial calibration and testing may need to be completed. This is also a good time to test the equipment you have stored to make sure it is still functioning properly.

4. Conduct Inventory Check

Take inventory of your tools and equipment. Make sure you have a sufficient stock of items such as salt, ice melt and/or sand, plow blades chains, de-icers, and anything else you use throughout the season. Remember salt supplies can run out during the winter months.

5. Review All Routes

Develop and reprioritize routes to ensure there is a plan in place as soon as plowing commences.

6. Be Consistent in Public Communications

Make sure your staff understands the process, timing and method of communicating important road weather information to the public.

7. Use Weather Forecasting Tools

Monitoring the weather as accurately and efficiently as possible is key to helping you plan and address potential route issues throughout the winter season.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are a city engineer, fleet manager or public works superintendent, extreme winter weather conditions can put pressure on even the most prepared road maintenance teams. And with the local community’s safety in your hands, we hope this quick-reference tip sheet will help to make this winter a little bit less hectic.