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ODOT Urges Extra Winter Prep In Light Of Plowing Cutbacks

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation says declining gas tax revenues and staffing shortages is forcing cuts to winter maintenance budgets, especially in Central and Eastern Oregon. Last week, ODOT announced lower volume highways will be plowed less frequently, if at all, this winter, which means drivers need to be a little extra prepared.

"You’ll see increased chain requirements, longer delays and most likely fewer open roads," says ODOT's Mindy McCartt. Less general road maintenance means pavement conditions may also be worse than you’re used to, and drivers shouldn’t trust that the fogline will be there to help, "When you’re driving in lower visibility weather, we want you to use the yellow centerline for guidance. Many of those roads may not have the side white line repainted." Essentially, she says, don't get complacent, "We’ve heard so many stories from the road where drivers thought they were just making a quick trip to a neighboring town, when they suddenly hit ice, ended up in a ditch wearing only shorts and open-toed shoes. So, wearing appropriate clothing for the weather outside is super crucial for your safety."

McCartt suggests taking time now to practice chaining up, "The first time trying to put these on should not be on the side of the road in a foot of snow." Remember, studded tires aren’t allowed on Oregon roads until November first. 

And, get the inside of your car ready, "As always, we tell everyone to carry a fully stocked emergency kit. Kits should include items like tools, cell phone chargers, working flashlights, water, snacks, a blanket, maybe an ice scraper and possibly a first aid kit."

file photo, courtesy Oregon State Police

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