When the snow falls, one California agency needs to make sure the Northstate roads and highways are clear.
The Department of Transportation, Caltrans, is revving up for the weekend storm ahead. They have been watching closely to see what is approaching. It is a task that needs a lot of effort.
“It’s the first big storm of the year,” said Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor Marty Wimer. “This is kind of like a get everybody ready to go.”
It is a time where the entire workforce is needed.
“We go to day shift and night shift, and then the outlying yards are on 24 hours a day,” said Supervisor Robert Ybright. “We order our materials. Then we get all our trucks and prepare them. We put new cutting edges on, and make sure they have all the proper supplies."
While many Northstate citizens are buttoning up their coats, Caltrans is buttoning up the machines.
On Thursday the department was checking their materials, like the salt piles and the mound of cinder, as well as getting the trucks ready to spread these compounds. Much of these items are used to keep the roads from getting slick.
As the snowy weather approaches Friday, Caltrans spent the morning fitting the plows onto the trucks. They are attachments manually mounted onto each piece of machinery. The department is preparing for what lies ahead.
Even for a 17-year Caltrans veteran worker Brian Pike, the prep work is key to a successful operation.
"Well, we've had cold storms like this come in before,” said Pike. “But nowadays, the traffic's a lot heavier. There's nowhere to put anybody when a wreck happens, and there's backups. It's just tougher to work on the freeway anymore."
Caltrans officials said they also are working to get things buttoned up with staffing. 275 maintenance staff members are already on board. Roughly 100 temporary workers are joining in. They are the somewhat seasonal workers needed to get the job done.