Which Roads Are Plowed First?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has 1,900 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders to clear roads during a winter storm. However, there's a set snow and ice removal process in place for which roads are plowed first.

The NCDOT plows in this order:

  • Interstates
  • Four-lane divided highways
  • Other routes essential to moving traffic

  • Secondary roads/streets
  • Neighborhoods

The NCDOT determines priority for plowing roads based on connectivity, traffic volume, major business routes and roads that are important to hospitals and emergency vehicles.

Road crews use brine to treat roads. Brine is a mixture that is 23 percent salt and 77 percent water. It helps lower the freezing temperature of water. Crews are able to brine up to 48 hours before a winter storm as long as the temperature does not drop below 18 degrees and it's not raining.

According to the NCDOT, it costs $0.15 per gallon of brine to treat one mile of road compared to $14.38 per mile of rock salt. The NCDOT stores up to 162,000 tons of salt statewide and it uses between 50,000-60,000 tons of sand and salt during a typical winter snow season.


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