Roadway warriors

The art of keeping our roadways clear

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 12:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 3:09 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — As long as Mother Nature cooperates, there should be no shortage of road clearing materials for the rest of the winter in Bureau County.

Recently, Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross told the Bureau County Republican it was a bit busier December than typical for his department, but then again ... dealing with the weather is never typical.

December has been a bit tougher for a couple reasons, Gross said. First of all, there was the ice the county received. Ice storms always take a lot more materials to clear the roads, he said.

The other factor was the high winds. Even though the county received a relatively small amount of snow, the high winds would blow the snow back on the roads. The ice coupled with the high winds has made this December a bit more challenging, Gross said.

Though it’s early in the winter season, Gross said he does not foresee any problem with any shortage of materials, barring any extreme hits from Mother Nature. The county has about 1,800 tons of salt which will be mixed at the highway department with sand, which is brought into the department as needed. He expects the county could use about 3,000 tons of sand this winter, Gross said.

The salt/sand mixture is typically a two part sand/one part salt combination, but may vary depending on the storm, Gross said. Every storm is different, he added.

As far as those days when the county snowplows are on the roads, Gross recommended motorists do not try to pass any snowplow. The trucks are spreading materials and need to get the plow on the center line to clear the road well. There’s little room for error for anyone trying to pass a snowplow. The trucks are out there because of the conditions, and motorists need to go slow and hang back from the snowplows, he said.

On Tuesday, WQAD meteorologist James Zahara said people who love snow will enjoy this week, but more snow can mean more dangerous road conditions. The chance of snow is expected every day of the week but Friday. Persons traveling should make sure to be aware of the latest forecast as untreated roads can become very slick, he said.

Comment on this story at

Get breaking news and weather sent to your phone. Sign up for bcralerts!