By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Prepping for the winter
County, KDOT getting ready for seasonal weather
winter road prep 1
A Barton County Road and Bridge Department snowplow clears a road. With winter approaching, local and state officials are preparing for the weather. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Although it’s still fall, Barton County is tasting winter this week, and the Road and Bridge Department is preparing for when the season arrives.

“We’re converting over to snowplows,” said the department’s John Remmert Tuesday afternoon. It takes about an hour each to change over the 13 trucks, 10 of which will also have sand spreaders. 

There are about 20 Road and Bridge employees that will man these vehicles in the most challenging of weather conditions, he said. In addition, there are also five graders, three loaders and other assorted equipment that will be pressed into service, as well as staff members from other departments that can be called on to help.

“The salt shed is full,” he said, adding this means it is piled with 6,000 tons of sand-salt mixture. They emptied this building twice last year.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Road and Bridge maintains about 400 miles of paved roads scattered over 900 square miles.

“It doesn’t take 10 inches of snow to have a blizzard,” he said. One to four inches with 30 mile-per-hour winds can drift roads shut as the ditches fill.

Four passes are needed to clear a road for traffic, he said. It will take a driver six to eight hours to cover 250 miles.


Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Transportation has done its best to be prepared as well. Parts of Kansas have already received some snow, and more is expected this week.

Field employees have conducted snow and ice training during October, routine maintenance on vehicles and equipment has taken place, and all KDOT storage facilities across the state are filled with a total of about 200,000 tons of salt and sand, according to KDOT Maintenance Bureau Chief Clay Adams. 

“It’s important to review procedures like making salt brine, putting on tire chains and loading materials, as well as basic snow and ice removal operations,” Adams said. “Whether it’s a harsh or mild winter, KDOT wants to be ready to go.”

KDOT uses salt brine in three ways.  

“Spraying salt brine on bridge decks helps keep frost from forming on cold damp mornings,” Adams said. “Using salt brine to pre-wet salt as it’s being dispersed from the trucks can be very effective by putting a coating of brine around the salt, which helps the salt stick to the pavement and activates the salt so it can melt the ice. Treating roads with brine prior to a snowstorm will help prevent the snow from sticking to the pavement.”

Salt brine is not effective if it’s extremely cold, windy or predicted to be a dry snow. However, in specific situations, salt brine helps in the removal or reduction of snow and ice on highway surfaces and makes it easier to plow the snow, Adams said.

Check first

While KDOT crews are focused on their efforts to clear the highways, KDOT Director of Safety Catherine Patrick reminds motorists to never pass a snowplow on the right side, slow down and use caution. Numerous KDOT trucks have been struck by motorists in years past, which puts people in danger and takes trucks out of commission. In fact, in February, five snowplows were hit in the Kansas City metro area in less than 24 hours.

“Check the forecast before you leave if there’s inclement weather. And when you see our crews out there working, please give them plenty of room,” Patrick said. “We’ll be out there day and night treating the highways and working to clear the roads as quickly as possible.”

winter road prep 2
Barton County Road and Bridge Department employee Richard Estes Tuesday afternoon prepares a sand spreader for operation on snowy roads this winter. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO