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Public Works departments prioritize school routes and highly trafficked areas.

PHOTO COURTESY JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS - A snow plow moves through heavy snow in Jefferson County. This winter we can expect a wetter, colder season which may mean more snowfall.

As winter weather approaches again this year and the potential for more snowfall looms, Jefferson County Public Works and the City of Madras prepare with plowing protocols and round-the-clock work to keep roads safe for those travelling through Jefferson County.

Jefferson County maintains over 500 lane miles of roads stretching to every corner of the county. With this many roads to cover, they prioritize major arteries and highly traveled roads.

"We do the priority routes first," said Matt Powlison, Public Works Director for Jefferson County. "On school days we try to get the bus routes first, and then the sanding routes."

The county has ten operators that each have a route they run on. Often, says Powlison, they plow a road one day, then spend the next day widening the same routes.

The county plows when three inches of snow accumulate and it's continuing to snow. They start plowing, no matter the day or time. As they plow, they lay cinders on the roads, focusing on high-traffic and slick areas like intersections, grades and turns.

"I don't expect we'll have any problem keeping up with the plowing this winter," said Powlison. "We've got a contractor if we end up needing it in some parts of the county."

The City of Madras has decided to take a new approach this year to battling winter road conditions. With the addition of a new deicer, called Ice Slicer, they hope the cinder and deicer mix the plows lay down will cut down on the time it takes to get roads cleared.

Jeff Hurd, interim public works director for the city of Madras, said that they've been using Ice Slicer with success so far this season. "We are using the Ice Slicer and it is melting really good," said Hurd. "We're trying to fine tune things."

After the city announced they were adding Ice Slicer to their mixture, there was some concern about the impact the salt based deicer may have on cars. Hurd said they realize and understand these concerns, "We're trying to use limited amounts of the Ice Slicer so it's not noticeable. If we have issues, we'll stop."

ODOT warns that if travel is necessary, be sure to carry blankets, water and food and expect delays. As we prepare for more winter weather, it's important to remember that even as crews attempt to plow, cinder, and maintain roads across the county, winter road travel can be dangerous, and motorists should use caution when driving, and avoid travel when possible.

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