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MDOT crews to be clearing roads all weekend in West Michigan, prepares for pileups

Plow truck drivers maintain different highways and roads differently, an MDOT spokesperson says.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Drivers of snow plows and salt trucks will be working all night, trying to get ahead of the snow before the next round.

"Winter is happening," MDOT Spokesman Nick Schirripa says. "There's a lot of snow."

With a weekend of snowy weather ahead, dozens of MDOT plow truck drivers will be clearing the interstates and "M routes" in West Michigan.

"We just asked everybody to be patient, drive responsibly and safely," Schirripa says. "Let's all get home safe at the end of the day."

Plow truck drivers work for a certain standard on the streets.

"Until we get down to essentially wet pavement on our primary routes, the I-94's and the US 131's,  kind of those those really big freeway and highway routes," Schirripa says. "Some of our M routes, we will get them down to bear wheel tracks in both direction."

When a pileup happens, he says it's a multi-agency response to clear the roads, with police acting as the first responder.

"When it comes to snow plowing through a crash like that, obviously, we can't," Schirripa says. "Our operators have to figure out how to work their route around that closure. Certainly when we have traffic that stopped on a freeway, that's freeway that's not getting snowed on. So that helps a little bit. But those are also people that are stopped on a highway. And that's not a best case scenario."

This weekend, he's urging everyone to slow down and give plows plenty of space.

"Just reduce your speed, eliminate distractions, leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you, and by all means, give all plow drivers, not just MDOT plows but city and county plows, give them all the room they need to do what they need to do," Schirripa says. 

MDOT's southwest region, which services Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties, is starting this season with 30,000 tons of salt. There is another 36,000 tons available as backup. 

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