Prior to the winter storm that hit Southwest Missouri, MoDOT crews were out and about on area roadways.
"Our crews kind of came out Saturday night about 7 p.m. or so," said Angela Eden, senior customer relations specialist with MoDOT. "We look at a variety of weather sources, we were kind of looking at what everybody was saying and everybody pretty much agreed that it was going to be pretty much heavy snow and then extremely cold temperatures."
Eden said the department prioritizes roadways, treating heavily traveled roadways first.
"Our first priority is obviously has to be those most heavily traveled routes and we are talking about I-49, I-44, U.S. 60, sections of Route 86, Business 49 there in Neosho, the roads that carry the most traffic, we have to concentrate on those first," she said. "Now that doesn't mean that we as we kind of get freed up that we will go to the lesser traveled routes and those are going to be some of our numbered routes that carry less traffic but also the lettered routes as well. Now some of those lettered routes, if they go through a community there are going to be sections of those routes that are going to be our higher priority routes. One in Neosho is Gateway (Drive) which is actually 175, sections of those roads are going to be what we call continuous treatment routes."
A few years ago, MoDOT started to add beet juice to their salt mixture to help them battle the winter mix.
"What beet juice does is actually it is an additive that we use with our salt," Eden said. "It does a couple of things, No. 1, it kind of helps the salt not to clump together in storage. But secondly, and probably most importantly, it lowers the temperature at which salt is effective. When our crews treat their salt with beet juice it also helps that salt not to kind of bounce off the pavement into the ditch, it helps it stay in place on the road surface. It has kind of been a standard thing for us for several years."
MoDOT crews will continue clearing roadways.
"For today, the temperatures moderating and maybe getting into the upper 20s or lower 30s, we will see a huge difference in the condition of our roads," she said. "We would anticipate sometime (this) morning that once we get the sun up and temperatures start to climb, we expect to have I-44, I-49 in clear condition, very, very quickly Tuesday morning."
Eden advises motorists to take precautions when traveling.
"That is something that we want to stress to folks is that they need to allow themselves extra travel time to get to their destination," Eden said. "If it takes you 15 minutes to get to work, maybe you need to allow yourself 30 minutes. Just allow themselves plenty of extra time to get to work. Slow the speed down. If it is a road that you normally can drive 60 mph on, better look at 45-50 mph. The most important thing that they (drivers) can do is wear their seatbelts. If they happen to get themselves into a situation where they are sliding, and they slide off of the road, their chances of avoiding serous injury is to make sure that you have your seatbelt on."
Also, Eden said motorists should make sure that their vehicle's headlights and taillights are cleared of any snow or ice, and make sure that they can see out of their windshields, driver and passenger windows and the rear window prior to leaving from home or work.
For road conditions in Missouri, call MoDOT's line at 1-888-275-6636 or visit www.modot.org/southwest. There are also two apps that one can download for their Android cell phone or iPhone, also available on MoDOT's website.