BEND, OR -- Road crews are gearing up for snow and ice, which could move into the High Desert this week. At the Oregon Department of Transportation compound in northeast Bend, Monday, Maintenance Manager Tim McGinnis was preparing their fleet. "We have, basically, six trucks set up: plows and sanders; then we have two more magnesium chloride trucks and then two heavy plow trucks that we try to keep on the mountain; and a couple graders in there, if it gets that bad."
McGinnis tells KBND News winter operations are now officially underway. "We mainly have seven trucks and they’ll be on the road all the time. But, our main priority is [Highway] 97, Bend Parkway, and we’ll keep the mountain clean; but we want to let everybody know Lava Butte will be taken care of."
Bend ODOT plow operator Mike James asks commuters to have a little patience. "We’ve got a lot going on inside the truck, so we have to be paying attention to everything around us. We really appreciate the public giving us a little bit of room. And also, we know that when you’re following a plow, that’s not the funnest thing. But, we do have areas where we try to get out of their way and let them
around." He adds, "We’re doing 35 at the max, so it’s not like we’re holding you way back. You’re going to lose a little bit of time, but give us a little bit of space and let us do our job so that we can get out of your way." ODOT covers more than 600 highway miles in Central Oregon.
Oregon State Police Lt. Don Wagner says the most important thing drivers can do in winter weather is slow down. "You might have a clear driving condition for several miles, and then you hit a shady spot where you’re not expecting to see black ice or snow on the roadway. Lt. Wagner says the mountain passes are the most common places drivers slide off the road because they get impatient and go too fast."
ODOT recommends keeping an emergency kit in your car in case you do get stuck and visit Tripcheck.com for the latest highway conditions.