It's that time of year when we all get ready for winter, including the crews with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The following is a conversation with ODOT's public relations spokesman Gary Leaming about the agency's winter preparations and who crews will work to keep roads open and safe.

The Pilot: What has ODOT been doing over the past few weeks and now to prepare for the winter weather?

Gary Leaming: We typically have our stockpile of cinder, deicer- and on the I-5 corridor, salt - ready to go. Plows are mounted and ready to roll. We’re all getting ready for the storm, and drivers have to do their part, too. That means getting your vehicle ready, carrying chains and knowing how to put them on, checking your tires and packing an emergency kit.

The Pilot: In Curry County, what would be the areas ODOT will address first, and how, when snow events occur here, and why those areas?

Leaming: Curry County the big concern is wind and trees/power lines down. When snow or freezing weather occurs, our priority are the state highways, deicing bridges and the steep grades on U.S. 101.

The Pilot: For snow and ice conditions, will ODOT be using salt, sand, de-icer, or a combination, to help folks get from one point to the other?

Leaming: On the coast and inland highways, we DON’T use salt. But we use a combination of plow, deicer and sand (cinder or ¼ minus gravel) for traction.

The Pilot: What is the annual ODOT winter weather budget and what does that fund?

Leaming: We budget around $8 million a year in southwest Oregon/Region 3 for winter maintenance. This cover all snow and ice related activities and slides, sinks and rockfall related activities. This is within our overall budget so on big years we have to cover overages from routine maintenance and we get less pavement repair, brushing, striping, etc. complete.

The Pilot: What are the recommendations for travelers in this area during any adverse winter weather?

Leaming: Be prepared for winter weather and delays. We can’t do our job if you don’t do yours. Monitor the weather forecast. Add more time to get to your destination and have your vehicle fueled and ready.

Know Before You Go

ODOT provides road and weather information online at TripCheck.com and on the phone, at 511.

  • Select updated reports about driving conditions by highway, mountain pass or major city from easy-to-use menus. The 511 system responds to both voice and touch-tone commands.
  • Calls to 511 are local calls when dialed from a pay phone or wire line phone. Mobile phone users are responsible for airtime and roaming charges according to their wireless service contracts, but ODOT does not impose any additional charges.
  • Most wireless companies in Oregon provide 511 service. If you cannot use 511, call toll-free 800 977-ODOT (6368) for road and weather information. Outside Oregon, dial 503-588-2941. Oregon can forward users to Washington state's 511 system for road conditions in that state.​​​
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