Maine DOT preparing for upcoming winter season

Published: Oct. 16, 2019 at 5:14 PM EDT
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Winter is approaching whether we like it or not.

Those who sit behind the wheel to keep us safe out on the roads are heading back to the classroom to sharpen their skills.

In this yearly training, "snow fighters" as they call themselves, discuss a number of topics from cost, to safety, to environmental impacts.

"We discuss the negative impacts of chlorides, and the National Weather Service has been working with us for many years, and they come in and talk a little bit about winter storms,” explained Brian Burne of the Maine Department of Transportation. “They give us their best guess as to how the upcoming winter might come out."

Brian Burne is a highway maintenance engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation.

He helps the department conduct their WISE college sessions.

Wise stands for Winter, Ice, and Snow Experts.

Most of the class consists of new employees, like Laura Theriault, who has only been with the department for a year.

For her and the other drivers, plowing is a lifestyle.

"Plowing is awesome, but staying awake is the trouble,” said Theriault.

In addition to working long and unpredictable hours, drivers also must be able to decide what to apply to the roads and how to make it last.

"You have to put a lot of math into it,” Theriault explained. “You have to know combinations and make sure you're getting the right mixtures in. If not, then that could be trouble."

"It's really an art” said Burne. “It takes people quite a while to develop that feel because it's dependent on what's going on with your traffic, what's going on with your temperatures, what's happening with the snow. How fast is it falling? What's it going to be doing in a half hour to an hour from now?"

And while we are two months away from the official first day of winter, you're urged to plan ahead.

Get snow tires and when the time comes, stay off the roads unless it's an emergency.

"If you don't need to be out in the storm, it's best if you don't,” said Burne. “That helps everybody."