This time of year, KDOT crews are busy trying to stay ahead
of the weather.
Here’s a snapshot of a recent battle against frozen fog.
|Christy DeSantis, Equipment Operator, back in the Hutchinson shop after spraying brine in advance of frozen fog.
It’s Friday morning, Jan. 24, at the District Five offices in
Hutchinson, and supervisors see that the forecast calls for frozen fog that
night and into the next morning. Extreme humidity, left by a barrage of rain
and snow, is about to meet freezing temperatures.
So across much of south central Kansas, District Five crews
set out to lay down a layer of brine – saltwater – a melting agent to help keep
an icy glaze from forming.
They focus on what KDOT crews call “the criticals” — the
bridge decks that tend to freeze faster because they are not insulated by the
ground. And the curves, crossovers and
turnarounds — where angling tires are
more apt to lose traction on slick spots.
Dave Alexander, Equipment Operator Senior, on a
brine run on K-96 between Hutchinson and Wichita.
So that morning, in just one part of the multi-county
effort, two KDOT trucks and their drivers work in tandem to spray brine in both
directions on K-96 between Hutchinson and Wichita.
The frozen-fog fighters: Dave Alexander, Equipment Operator
Senior, with about 20 years of service to KDOT, and Christy DeSantis, Equipment
Operator, with about two years of experience.
They each drive a big orange truck with flashing lights,
one with a 2,000-gallon brine tank, the other with 1,600 gallons. She takes the
inside lane. He, the outside. She goes ahead. He stays behind. Traffic passes
Here and there, they stop and turn to catch the crossover
and turnaround lanes.
Using controls in their toasty cabs, they spray brine
intermittently as they roll along.
In Alexander’s truck, a monitor shows the air temperature,
33 degrees, and road temperature, 39. It’s around 11 a.m. All is calm. They
keep working methodically.
You can see dull-white parallel lines, long ribbons down
the highway, where the brine nozzles have sprayed directly down.
It’s all part of an effort to keep motorists from spinning
The crews do what they can.
The rest is up to Mother Nature – and the motorists.