USA Parkway Brings New Challenges For NDOT Crews - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

USA Parkway Brings New Challenges For NDOT Crews

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The Nevada Department of Transportation has been preparing for the winter since July, knowing how snow can affect the region's roads.  One of those highways is USA Parkway.  The 18-mile road opened in September, so there will be a learning curve for NDOT maintenance crews this winter.

"It's a new road for the public. It's also a new roadway for us," Thor Dyson, NDOT District Engineer said.

The road has slopes, curves and elevation differences that could react in a variety of ways during the winter.  Shade and wind can cause some areas to have snow drifts or icy patches.  Those are all elements that could take a few years for crews to learn about.

"When you have a brand new road open up, it has a life of its own and we're learning that life," Dyson said. "We're learning how that road reacts."

Crews already sprayed saltwater brine onto the road's surface before last week's storm, just in case snow fell in the area. Brine helps keep the snow from sticking to the road. NDOT will continue to apply it before storms as it sees fit.

"If we're not sure, we're going to err on the side of being conservative and be proactive in our brine and proactive in our snow and ice operations," Dyson said.

The new road has designated areas for chain installations during winter storms, allowing people to pull off in a safe area.

"We're on it, we're operating it, the public's driving on it and we're going to do everything that we can to be proactive to make it as safe as possible and make adjustments as necessary," Dyson said.

Last winter brought record amounts of precipitation that overwhelmed some culverts and ditches.  It also caused erosion and washed away sections of some roads.  Dyson says those are repaired, other than some boulder and slope work in the Lake Tahoe and Mt. Rose area.  Future repairs are for aesthetic purposes.

"Everywhere that we know there's an issue, we've addressed it and we're ready for this year's storms," Dyson said.

NDOT is currently doing maintenance on 80 plows and other snow removal equipment and getting its sand and salt stockpiles ready.  An average of 2,000 car crashes happen as a result of unsafe driving in snowy conditions, and the goal is to prevent as many as possible.  Dyson says they will be ready when the forecast calls for snow or ice.

"We'll adjust our crew shifts, we'll adjust the equipment and personnel, accordingly, to the storm and we're ready," Dyson said.

Dyson says NDOT has about 150 full-time maintenance employees but it still needs some part-time workers.  Only 28 of the 50 part-time jobs have been filled.

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