With eye toward environment, Montgomery Co. road crews gear up for winter

Overnights are getting chillier, the days are getting shorter, and it’s only a matter of time before the D.C. area gets some winter weather.

In fact, you might even see some next week, according to some forecast models.

Whatever comes this way in the coming days and weeks, road crews in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they’re ready.

During the county’s annual “Snow Summit,” they showed off the latest equipment for battling snow and ice, with a focus on being environmentally friendly.

Changes this winter include requiring contractors to clean up excess salt.

“This is something that we did get complaints about not infrequently last year, of either piles of salt or excess amounts of salt left on the ground,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

Other efforts to reduce salt usage include the use of more salt brine, a solution of 80% water and 20% salt.

“We need to use salt to make sure that the roads aren’t iced, that people can move safely,” said county Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin. “But we want to use as little of it as we need to, to have that condition exist.”

Additionally, 25 plows will use rubber-tipped blades. They reduce roadway damage and allow snow to be cleared sooner, but can wear out more quickly. If the test proves successful, more plows could be outfitted with the devices in the coming years.

Overall, the message was one of readiness and reassurance to residents.

“We have a very sophisticated dispatch and management system, so that we know what streets have been plowed when, what still needs to be done,” Conklin said, “and we can report those conditions to our residents as they call and look for updates.”

“We are prepared for this winter operation,” said Richard Dorsey, Highway Services Division chief. “Whatever Mother Nature delivers us, I think we can handle it in a reasonable amount of time.”

Rubber-tipped snow plow blades
Twenty-five plows will use rubber-tipped blades in Montgomery County. They reduce roadway damage, but can wear out more quickly. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Snow plow tank
Montgomery County’s efforts to reduce salt usage include the use of more salt brine. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Dashboard view from above the plow
The view from above the plow. (WTOP/John Aaron)
road salt being stored
The salt is ready for spreading. And this winter, contractors will be required to clean up any excess. (WTOP/John Aaron)
snow plows at the ready
“We are prepared for this winter operation,” said Richard Dorsey, Highway Services Division chief. “Whatever Mother Nature delivers us, I think we can handle it in a reasonable amount of time.” (WTOP/John Aaron)
(1/5)
Rubber-tipped snow plow blades
Snow plow tank
Dashboard view from above the plow
road salt being stored
snow plows at the ready

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up