IDOT, public works departments prepare for snow

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Crews are preparing for the first measurable amount of snowfall for the season.

Statewide, IDOT has 1,679 permanent employees ready for snow removal operations and an additional 1,627 temporary employees available as well, with 1,815 total trucks ready to hit the roads.

“We anticipate having our snowplow drivers out sometime tonight, probably after midnight in the Champaign area, in the nearby surrounding areas to Champaign,” IDOT’s Paul Wappel said. “The pavement temperatures aren’t supposed to be below freezing until about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. But our crews – if that’s the case – they’ll probably be out after midnight pre-treating the roads and overpasses and bridges, because the bridges and overpasses freeze first.”

Likewise, Kris Koester with the Champaign Department of Public Works said his teams were set to begin their shifts around 11:00 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Both Wappel and Koester acknowledged having to take possible staffing shortages into account because of the pandemic.

“Patience is going to be a key,” Wappel said. “It always is with winter weather, but especially this winter. You know, we may be down a little bit staffing-wise depending on the impact of COVID-19 on temporary staff or full-time staff. So, please be patient. When you go out, ask yourself, do I have to make this trip? Is it absolutely necessary?”

Koester said his department asked the City of Champaign for a waiver on its mandatory 12-hour window to clear primary roads this season, just in case crews are short-staffed at any point.

“”Nothing should appear to be different to those that’ve lived here a long time, except perhaps maybe would take a little bit longer near someone’s house to get to,” Koester said. “Maybe with COVID going on and people being asked to stay home, there won’t be as much traveling, but we are always going to be prepared for whoever needs to get somewhere.”

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