Throughout the winter season, an informed public is vital to the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) successful Snow Removal and Ice Control (SRIC) program. A clear understanding of our operational procedures is beneficial to both the DOH and to the public. During times of inclement weather the primary goal of the DOH is to provide the traveling public with safe, passable routes.

Advanced planning is critical to the effectiveness of the SRIC program and several factors are used to determine how resources are allotted. DOH personnel have spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the winter season before the first flake of snow fell. Pre-winter SRIC plans for each of the seven counties in the District Three region were generated specifically for each organization. These plans are tailored for fighting snow and ice based on the particular conditions affecting each area. After each storm, DOH personnel spend time repairing equipment, ordering materials and addressing any problems that may have occurred from the previous storm, in preparation for the next storm event.

The severity of a winter storm and the priority of the routes dictate SRIC operations. The State of West Virginia is responsible for maintaining more than 35,000 miles of roadway, which makes prioritizing a necessity in the SRIC program. During a winter storm, crews concentrate on "first priority" routes, which typically include Interstates, Appalachian Corridors, WV Primary and some high traffic County routes that connect urban centers. The crews continue to concentrate on these "first priority" routes until the storm is over and these routes have been adequately addressed. At this point the crews move on to their "second and third priority" routes. Second priority routes are the lower-volume paved roads, and any school bus routes. Third priority routes consist of surface treated (tar and chip) and gravel-based roads that are mail routes, but non-bus routes. District Three is responsible for more than 4,600 miles of roadway within seven counties, specifically: Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood, wherein this prioritization is followed.

Along with route priority, the type of roadway surface also controls the type of treatment applied. Typically all hot-mixed asphalt or concrete roadways are treated with chemicals and/or a chemical-abrasive mix. Low-grade bituminous routes (tar and chip) are treated with sand, cinders, or abrasive mixes only, since chemical treatments would damage the tar and chip roadway. Gravel based routes are also only treated with sand and/or abrasive mixes for the same reason. During back-to-back storm events or long, continuous snowfalls, crews are required to stay on priority one routes before addressing the priority two or three routes. The result may be that persons living along secondary routes could see a delay of 24 to 48 hours after the snowfall ends before trucks can make it out to some areas. A longer delay should be expected for those living along the third priority routes, gravel and tar and chip roads. Additionally, a pre-treatment using salt brine is being used on the expressways, when conditions allow.

For further information please contact your local DOH District Office. Road conditions are also available by calling toll-free, 1-877-WVA-ROAD, or 1-877-982-7623, or by dialing 511.

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