Winter Maintenance - Notes and Other Interesting Information

  • Studded tires are permitted on vehicles in Pennsylvania each season from November 1 to April 15. Since prolonged use of studded tires damages the road surface, motorists who continue to use studded tires after the cutoff date may be fined.
  • PennDOT maintains 3,576 miles of state highway in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The actual number of lane miles plowed in the region during a snowstorm is 9,021. Lane miles are calculated by multiplying the distance or length of a highway by the number of travel lanes. For instance, a two-lane, five-mile road has 10 lane miles.
  • PennDOT enters this winter with 96,367 tons of salt and 13,132 tons of anti-skid stockpiled in the five-county Philadelphia region.
  • PennDOT's statewide winter budget is $149 million. State wide, PENNDOT owns and maintains 40,101 miles of state highway and 88,627 lane miles.
  • During a snowstorm, PennDOT begins plowing after one-half inch or more of snow has accumulated on the road.
  • PennDOT, clears Type A and Type B roads first during a snowstorm because they carry the most traffic. Type C routes are treated similar to B roads in that they are given high priority before the morning and evening rush hours to accommodate commuter traffic.
  • State highways in Pennsylvania are classified into six categories.
    • Type A: Interstate Highways (I-95, I-76, etc.)
    • Type B: Other Expressways and Principal Arterials (US 202, US 1, PA 309, etc.)
    • Type C: Minor Arterial Highways/Heavily Traveled Local Routes (US 30, PA 3, PA 611, etc.)
    • Type D: Collector Highways (rural routes with light to moderate traffic)
    • Type E: Local Access Highways
    • Type F: Ramps
  • In Southeastern Pennsylvania, PennDOT's road salt is supplied by International Salt Company, Inc., LLC of Clarks Summit, Pa. PennDOT paid an average of $31.86 a ton for salt and $8.20 a ton for antiskid.
  • Salt is used to melt snow and ice; however, it is most effective when applied at temperatures above 20 degrees F. and worked into the snow and ice on the road's surface by traffic.
  • PennDOT uses salt and antiskid (a mixture of small stones and sand) to melt snow, improve traction and reduce slippery conditions during a snowstorm. PennDOT uses 100 percent salt on interstate highways, major expressways and other heavily traveled roads in the region.
  • PennDOT pre-wets roads with salt sprayed with liquid magnesium chloride to enhance its melting capability in extremely cold temperatures. Pre-wetting also reduces the amount of salt spread during a storm, since larger quantities of dry salt are needed to de-ice a road in temperatures below 20 degrees.
  • Last winter in District 6, PennDOT used 39,046 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride.
  • This winter, 30 of PENNDOT's 35 stockpiles in Southeastern Pennsylvania are equipped with a 3,000-gallon tank of liquid magnesium chloride. Each stockpile will start the winter with 2,000 gallons on hand. Liquid magnesium chloride costs $0.63 per gallon.
  • PennDOT utilizes an anti-icing program by applying liquid magnesium chloride, liquid calcium chloride or salt water to the road before snow starts falling. This is done to prevent precipitation from forming a strong, icy bond with the pavement. Anti-icing is done on I-95, 1-76, and I-676 in Philadelphia; on the US 202/PA 611 Bypass, PA 132, US 13, I-95, PA 413, PA 313, PA 309 in Bucks County; on US 1, US 202, US 30 and PA 100 in Chester County; on the US 1 Bypass, I-476, and I-95 in Delaware County; and on I-76, I-476, and US 422 in Montgomery County.
  • In Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery counties, PennDOT uses zero-velocity spreaders, which increase salt spreading efficiency by dropping materials on the road at the same speed at which the truck is moving. This results in more salt on the road and less bouncing to the side. To enhance efficiency, these trucks are equipped with liquid magnesium tanks to treat salt internally prior dropping it on the pavement. The specialized spreaders will be used on PA 309, US 13, US 1, PA 611 Bypass and US 202 Bypass in Bucks County; on PA 100 and PA 252 in Chester County; and on I-76 and I-476 in Montgomery County.
  • PennDOT uses a wing plow on US 422 in Montgomery County. This specialized snowplow is outfitted with a wing on the passenger side. With the wing deployed, the truck can move up to 50 percent more snow off the highway. The new equipment can clear the right travel lane and shoulder with one pass. The wing plow is utilized to clear limited access highways. The wing can be retracted when plowing other routes.
  • PennDOT's Philadelphia County Maintenance Unit has developed a mechanism to remove icicles from tunnels, bridges and sidewalls. The BIRD (Big Icicle Removing Device) is attached to a dump truck and raised to knock icicles off structures into the truck. In the past, this procedure was done by a person in the truck bed knocking down icicles with a long pole, a time-consuming procedure. The portable unit can be removed in minutes to return the dump truck to its primary function of plowing and salting.
  • Road conditions in Pennsylvania often are compared to those in neighboring states. Though most comparisons are purely subjective and relative to fluctuating weather conditions and temperatures, one significant difference between Pennsylvania and its adjoining states is the number of state highway miles each maintains. The linear miles of state highway in each state are:
    • Pennsylvania - 40,101 (3,576 in District 6)
    • Maryland - 5,120
    • New Jersey - 2,320
    • Delaware - 5,066
  • One hundred municipalities in Southeastern Pennsylvania this winter will clear snow and ice from state-owned highways within their boundaries under the state's Municipal Snow Removal Agreement Program. With these agreements, the Commonwealth reimburses the city, township or borough for their service. The monetary reimbursement is based on lane miles covered and roads serviced.

Statewide, PennDOT's partnering with 800 municipalities under its Winter Municipal Snow Removal Agreement Program.

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