The Missouri Department of Transportation will host its annual winter operations drill Wednesday and Thursday in an attempt to get a jump on this year’s winter season. The drill has been expanded to two days this year to accommodate social distancing requirements due to COVID-19.
Motorists may notice increased numbers of MoDOT vehicles on state routes during the drill. In rural areas, crews will deploy after 8 a.m. In urban areas, the drill will not begin until after 9 a.m. The exercise should be completed by 3 p.m.
More than 3,000 MoDOT employees are involved in clearing roads and bridges as quickly as possible when winter weather hits. During the drill, MoDOT employees will react to a simulated forecast of significant snow for the entire state. The department’s emergency operations centers will activate and maintenance employees will be deployed to their trucks. Emergency communications systems will also be tested.
The drill serves as a training reminder to make sure proper equipment, plowing techniques and safety measures are used. In addition, every piece of equipment — every truck, motor grader, snow blower and tractor — is inspected and calibrated to conserve materials.
One of the most valuable parts of the drill is that it allows MoDOT’s newest employees the opportunity to drive a snowplow over their designated routes so they are aware of obstacles and obstructions, such as curbs and raised islands, that might be hidden in snow or ice.