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AHTD Prepares For Winter Storm; Pretreating Major Roadways

LITTLE ROCK, AR- Arkansas Highway and Transportation crews are preparing for the winter storm later expected to hit the state Thursday and Friday.
LITTLE ROCK, AR- Arkansas Highway and Transportation crews are preparing for the winter storm later expected to hit the state Thursday and Friday.

Randy Ort with the AHTD says road teams have their dump trucks and sand on standby at its Little Rock maintenance yard. Ort says they plan to deploy these trucks and sand after the rain comes through and before the freezing temperatures kick in.

"It's predicted to start as a rain event. That limits what we can do ahead of time," said Randy Ort, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

Ort says if they spread chemical mixtures on the roadway to help with ice right now, the rain would wash it away. In the meantime, they're monitoring the weather and ready to utilize their trucks and sand throughout Central Arkansas.

"Our equipment has been checked over, our materials are stock piled in key places around the state, and our main thing is our personnel, our man power. They're aware of the situation, they'll be ready for round the clock duties," said Ort.

Arkansas Highways:  Current conditions map   http://www.arkansashighways.com/Road/mapopt.htm

The department has well over a thousand employees ready for the winter storm. Crews are geared with more than 700 dump trucks throughout the state, some of which are being used to pre-treat major highways and bridges in Northwest Arkansas Wednesday night.

"We'll be spreading a chemical, abrasive mixture," said Ort. "Basically it's a mixture of sand and salt. The sand will obviously help with traction if there is ice on the roadway and the salt will help in the melting process to get rid of any ice that has formed."

Ort says they're looking at 16,000 miles of Arkansas'  highway system. They're going to focus their efforts on heavily traveled routes like interstate highways, bridges, overpasses and any major river crossings.

"People are limited how you're going to get from one side of a body of water to another. So bridges are always going to be the first to freeze. People need to be aware of that," said Ort.

AHTD is also working with cities and counties to prep roadways, such as major arteries to our highways like Cantrell and University in Little Rock as well as JFK in North Little Rock.


(story contributed by KARK, Little Rock)

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