TDOT saving money, conserving resources - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TDOT saving money, conserving resources

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The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is upgrading its equipment, meaning if and when snow falls on our roads it'll be no match for our trucks or our budget! New trucks which spread salt more precisely will cut waste and save money. Hamilton County now has eleven of these new trucks courtesy of state funds.

"We can get a lot more lane miles done before the truck has to come back in and refill with salt," says District 29 Operations Supervisor Chris Smith.

A lane mile takes the total amount of lanes into account. For example, a one mile stretch of an interstate made up of four lanes, in one direction, is four lane miles.

He says the old trucks had no way to control the speed or accuracy of spreading salt, sometimes using more than twice the amount needed on a given run.

"If you're on a two lane road, if you're shooting salt 30 feet out, it's going into the ditch, and it's not doing us any good," adds Smith. Now the salt is spread 10 feet, falling only where it needs to be.

In the new vehicles a convenient calibration system in the cabin controls it all.

"Before we go out we'll decide that, say, we want to have 200 pounds of salt per lane mile. We'll put that on setting 4 matter how fast the truck is going it will distribute 200 pounds for every mile the truck goes," explains Smith as he flips a switch and pushes a button.

Then once the truck moves the spinner in the back of the truck sends the salt on its way.

Region 2 Community Relations Officer Jennifer Flynn is excited about the newly-available technology, especially at the going rate of $90 dollars per ton for salt and more than 600 lane miles winding through the county.

"We want to use just the right amount to get the job done," says Flynn. "We're trying to be good stewards of the tax payers' money. This should save the tax payers money."

The trucks aren't just moving the science of treating roads into the 21st century, they're also safer because the beds don't have to be raised. Joseph Webb, acting county Operations Supervisor, says this is especially important for his territory on Lookout Mountain. He put a new truck to the test the week of Thanksgiving.

"That eliminates snagging on telephone lines, power lines, or trees," says Webb.

District 29, which includes Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Polk,, and Rhea Counties, received a total of 33 new trucks. The district contains 2,053 lane miles of roads. TDOT is responsible for interstates and state routes.


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