ODOT: Motorists key to keeping roads safe this winter

'Together, we'll get through it'

ODOT prepares for winter

BEND, Ore. - On Monday, the Oregon Department of Transportation introduced its Central Oregon winter road preparation plan.

After last year's record snowfall, ODOT wants to make sure it covers all bases this winter.

The department plans on doing more community outreach than in years past, to let everyone know what they're up to.

So far, the agency has already stockpiled all the cinder rocks it'll need for the season, and the heavy machinery is prepped and ready to go.

Magnesium chloride will once again be the anti-ice chemical of choice.

Rock salt won't be used in this area, unlike some other areas of the state adding it to their options because ODOT lacks storage facilities, and the equipment isn't designed to handle it.

ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said keeping the community up to speed is one of the best things they can do when it comes to keeping everyone safe.

"Motorists who understand the environment that they're driving in, who cooperate with ODOT and see how things are going, they're going to be the people who are the safeguards out there on the highway," he said. 

"We can't be everywhere. Motorists are everywhere," Murphy added. "So it's really incumbent on motorists to drive to conditions they find themselves in, and that they're doing what they can do. We're doing what we can do, and together we'll get through it."

The department says a heavy emphasis will be put on the primary roads. That includes highways 97, 26, 126 and 20.

ODOT's incident response team also will play an important role in keeping roads clear
The crew will be dedicated to digging out stuck cars, removing road hazards and helping cars that run out of gas. 

David Moyer, the incident response team specialist, is asking drivers to help keep an eye out for everything and everyone.  

"So our biggest thing is when we're out there ... what we would like to see happen is drivers respect the responders who are on the roadway," Moyer said. "So just slowing down when we're out there on the side of the roadway -- having snow and slush splashed up on you at 40 miles an hour is not very comfortable." 

The incident response team started in 2002 and is made up of three crew members. They use information from road cameras, drivers and Oregon State Police to respond to situations. 

Currently, ODOT officials rely on the road cameras and OSP to find out about incidents.

And the department is hoping to soon make all those cameras infrared, so they can show road conditions at night.

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