Jan. 29 snow plowing

January 30, 2002

Make way for the plows!

Ever wonder how the county can coordinate snow plows to rid roadways of the white stuff during a storm? According to Washington County Highway Department Director J. Theodore Wolford, it's not as easy as spreading a little salt on the asphalt.

To clear the county's 830 miles of roads - 1,660 miles when you consider each lane must be plowed - Wolford has at his disposal about 60 vehicles outfitted with plows.

In less than an hour and a half, he can call in drivers and have them on the road combating winter storms. From the moment snow stops falling, it takes 12 hours to clear each county road.

"We can have everything at least plowed once and open for traffic to use without any problems," he says.

Of the fleet's trucks, which includes 15 subcontractors, 35 are outfitted with salt spreaders. These are the big trucks used to spread salt and anti-skid on the roads to keep drivers from sliding this way and that.


Anti-skid is comprised of small, chipped stone the size of the nail on a little finger. It is used to improve tire traction.

Rock salt is used to melt snow, and is most effective up to 20 degrees below zero. Colder than that and the salt needs the heat generated by passing traffic to melt snow and ice at its optimum level.

- Kevin Clapp,

The Herald-Mail Articles