ODOT answers questions to how it responded to snowstorm - KPTV - FOX 12

ODOT answers questions to how it responded to snowstorm

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As drivers were stuck on freeways and in traffic gridlock Wednesday, many were wondering why the roads were so bad and why the Oregon Department of Transportation wasn’t doing more to help.

ODOT officials said they did the best they could, with sanding, de-icing and plowing trucks were all out on roads. In fact, 65,000 gallons of de-icer was used just in the Portland metro area.

Transportation officials say that is one of the reasons roads like Highway 26 were in such good shape Thursday night.

Still, they know the gridlock Wednesday was a huge headache.

Many drivers had questions about the huge backup at the Interstate 84 and Interstate 5 interchange, where semis were stuck and people reported sitting on the freeway for three hours or more.

Don Hamilton with ODOT said crews did eventually get there to help, after having to drive backwards up the I-84 off-ramp to get to the stalled tractor trailers.

Hamilton noted that there are only so many points of entrance along the freeway system, and one of the big problems Wednesday was that it was absolute gridlock anywhere ODOT crews were trying to go.

Crews and equipment were delayed for hours in some cases because they couldn’t get around the traffic and the abandoned cars.

Some viewers also asked why Oregon doesn’t use salt in extreme conditions like Wednesday’s storm, and while Hamilton said it was under consideration for use in the metro in the future, there are also serious drawbacks.

“We’re using salt in the extreme southwest and southeast corners of the state right now on a pilot project,” he explained. “Salt requires a lot of re-jiggering for infrastructure, requires a lot of work for storage and truck facilities, and it requires a lot of understanding for the impact it has on the roads.”

Right now, ODOT uses magnesium chloride, which is a form of salt with a rust inhibitor. ODOT also used 220 truckloads of sand Wednesday, along with 54 snowplows and de-icers.

Like many organizations, though, they will be reviewing what happened during the recent snowstorm to see where they can improve going forward.

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