Departments prepare county, city roads in advance of winter storm

Faulkner County officials had a conference call with David Maxwell, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management director, Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to prepare for the impending winter storm.

 

“Once the roads get bad, there’s not a lot we can do to help you,” Maxwell said. “Making sure you’ve got everything in line ready to go will help us all.”

Maxwell said the latest information from the National Weather Service in Little Rock showed a combination of sleet and snow moving in to central Arkansas by 1 p.m. today with the possibility of 2 to 5 inches of snow accumulation.

County Judge Jim Baker said high temperatures Tuesday may keep the ground warm enough to melt any ice that falls before it changes to snow.

“If it’s a snow event, we can do a lot more work on the road,” Faulkner County Road Department Superintendent Mark Ledbetter said. “We can use our road graders to keep our main roads open.”

The graders can’t be used on chip-sealed surfaces because it will tear it up, Ledbetter said.

“If it’s just ice, we’ve got a couple of spread trucks and we do some manual operations spreading sand as well.”

Ledbetter said the road department would keep a close watch on the weather to decide its best course.

“As soon as it starts falling, whatever falls first will be our first line of attack,” he said.

Jacob Reynolds, street superintendent for the city of Conway, was also gearing up his crew Tuesday for the round of snow and ice.

“We have been doing maintenance on our sand spreaders and our plows, putting new cutting edges on our snowplows and getting ready to use them again. We restocked our sand pile,” he said. “Fortunately, we haven’t had too many breakdowns this time around — just small stuff, but nothing major. We’ll just wait until it hits and start the process.”

In the event of inclement weather, crews from the street department will work 12-hour shifts plowing snow and sanding roads.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate the last two rounds were on a Sunday night,” Reynolds said. “There wasn’t much traffic. This one could be a little different if it hits while everyone is still at work.”

Shelia McGhee, director of the Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management, said one of her biggest concerns during winter weather or any type of severe weather is educating the public about being self-sustaining, especially in the event that they are without electricity for two or three days, she said.

Her office spends much of the year reaching out to the public about being more prepared, she said. She noted emergency services such as fire departments and MEMS were likely doing pre-planning on Tuesday, as was her office.

“We’re just going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” she said.

 

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