James K. Polk Building, Suite
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741.2027
Fax: (615) 532.5995
Estel Hagewood, Transportation Manager 1
Winter maintenance remains a priority of the Maintenance Division and field forces. When weather conditions are less than ideal, the Maintenance staff in each of our 22 district offices is always ready to respond. In the past, it has been customary to respond to reports of snow or ice that have fallen and accumulated on the roadway by spreading salt to melt the frozen precipitation. Today, we are able to respond even before the white stuff hits the pavement.
Now, a new method of winter maintenance has become very popular among many states. In many cases, it will actually help to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the highways. That method is called anti-icing. We now use a combination of water, salt, and other additives, called "salt brine" that helps to prevent freezing from occurring. It is applied before the anticipated storm arrives, giving the roads a coat of protection that can start working as soon as snow starts falling.
This allows TDOT to drastically reduce the amount of salt that must be used to battle winter conditions on the roadways, thus making winter maintenance work more economical. This practice has saved state agencies across the country many thousands of dollars in winter maintenance activities. Of course, during extreme weather storms, anti-icing is not enough by itself. So it is still necessary to spread salt and plow after snow has begun to accumulate. TDOT constantly monitors weather conditions during the winter season, and road conditions are updated regularly on TDOT’s SmartWay Map on the agency's website. It is critical to have the ability to collect, interpret, and disseminate information. This is why the Maintenance Division is aggressively attempting to provide the public with the most current information available whenever possible. During the winter season, when temperatures fall and snow and ice accumulations are often a possibility, roadway conditions are proactively monitored to prioritize route clearance activities as dynamic storm conditions develop.
All rest areas and welcome centers in Tennessee provide current weather conditions, radar information, and weather advisory announcements. In addition, welcome centers also provide access to the TDOT SmartWay Information System. This system displays maps showing current travel conditions such as traffic incidents, construction information, camera video surveillance, message signs, traffic flows, and weather-related road conditions that may exists on any state road due to snow, ice, and flooding. More information on rest areas and welcome centers can be found on the TN Rest Area Services page.
Winter maintenance will always be an important aspect of the Maintenance Division's responsibilities and we are committed to continuing to improve the effectiveness and timeliness of our winter maintenance activities.
RWIS Weather Information
Weather forecasting models and RWIS (Roadway Weather Information Systems) have become essential tools in making managerial decisions that are related to winter weather and road conditions. These two systems provide us with the ability to identify areas of the state that could potentially experience severe weather conditions. Once these areas have been identified, we can then take appropriate actions to avoid delays and incidents on our interstates and state highways.
RWIS provides information about the surface temperature, ambient air temperature, wind speed and direction, and precipitation at specific locations around the state through the use of pavement sensors and weather monitoring devices. This information is forwarded to a central clearinghouse for national RWIS data presentation at www.clarus-system.com. Currently, TDOT has installed 36 sites across the state.