Idaho Transportation Department buckles up for winter

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - It's that time of year again! With flakes in the forecast, road crews have their eyes on the sky.

The Idaho Transportation Department is gearing up for winter, especially as the first chance for a good dumping of snow in the mountains approaches.

Much of the snow accumulation expected this weekend will stay in the higher elevations. The department says it has workers ready to jump into action before the first flakes fall if needed.

There are two seasons for the Idaho Transportation Department. The first season includes spring, summer and early fall. During that time, most of ITD's equipment is used for construction purposes.

The second season is winter. That's when the department turns its focus to snow removal and road maintenance. In the valley, that transition is still happening.

"We have new people each year that come on who we need to train up to get ready," said Reed Hollingshead, ITD spokesman.

But in the higher elevations, the shift has already happened. That means crews are prepared and ready for this upcoming storm, and the rest of them.

"Even if it's calm down here it might not be up there and so we kind of monitor both things and we have maintenance sheds serving all areas around the state so wherever the snow hits we're ready to handle it," Hollinshead said.

The southwest district stretches north from the Nevada border north to New Meadows, and east from the Oregon border to between Mountain Home and Twin Falls. That district has more than 80 pieces of equipment in its fleet, including plows, graders, de-icing and sanding machines.

Dozens of workers are also on standby ready to get ahead of whatever comes our way.

"When the snow's about to hit we try to get out there right before the snow hits to put down the de-icer," Hollinshead said. "It's most effective if it's sitting on those lanes when the snows coming down on top of it."

As far as when and where it snows, ITD says their crews will just have to wait and see.

"It's a little bit frustrating because you don't have any control over it," Hollinshead said. "But by the same token we know that living in Idaho from the middle of November through April it could happen so you're just ready for that eventuality. It will happen, it's just a matter of time."

If you're heading up into the mountains, be sure to check the road reports by dialing 511 or on the Idaho Transportation's website.